Drilon files resolution seeking ABS-CBN operations beyond May 4

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the Senate to "express its sense" allowing media giant ABS-CBN Corporation to operate beyond its franchise that is set to expire on May 4.

Drilon on Wednesday, February 26, filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, which asks the Senate to allow ABS-CBN to operate "under the terms of its existing franchise" as renewal is being tackled in Congress.

A concurrent resolution, when adopted, does not have the effect of a law. It only formally conveys the sense of the chamber about extending the media giant's franchise. (Scenarios: What's next for ABS-CBN's franchise after Senate hearing?)

If adopted by the Senate, it can be used as basis by the National Telecommunications Commission to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue its broadcast operations after the franchise expires. The NTC document could be withdrawn anytime if the network is proven to have violated its terms.

The idea of filing a concurrent resolution to authorize NTC was suggested by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during the Senate hearing on Monday, February 24.

This is the second measure filed by Drilon, the first being the joint resolution which seeks to extend ABS-CBN's franchise until December 2022. A joint resolution is similar to a bill, such that, if passed by both chambers and then signed by the President, it would have the effect of a law.

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Meanwhile, Senator Bong Revilla filed Senate Bill 1374, which seeks to amend the term of ABS-CBN's franchise to extend it until December 31, 2020.

He said the 10-month extension should be enough for Congress to resolve the issues that may arise as the chambers deliberate bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise.

Republic Act 7966, which granted ABS-CBN's franchise, is set to expire 25 years from March 30, 1995. Guevarra explained that the law too effect only 15 days after its publication on April 19 that year, therefore the actual expiration is on May 4, 2020.

At the House of Representatives, formal proceedings on the ABS-CBN franchise bills filed in the lower chamber has started when the House panel asked all stakeholders to submit their position papers.

But the House leadership is still bent on holding a hearing only in May or early August, as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said – when ABS-CBN's franchise shall have expired. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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