Lagman hits 'limited' March 10 House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

MANILA, Philippines – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman hit the House hearing on the franchise renewal of broadcast network ABS-CBN set for Tuesday, March 10, pointing out some problems in its agenda.

In a statement on Sunday, March 8, Lagman called the upcoming hearing by the House committee on legislative franchises "limited," adding that it "appears to be cosmetic and inconsequential."

"The merits of the 11 pending renewal bills are not set for deliberation and consideration, even as the principal officers of ABS-CBN Corporation were not called to the hearing to justify the application for renewal," said Lagman.

House Resolution No. 639 – signed by 91 lawmakers to urge the legislative franchises committee to act on the pending bills – was also not included in the agenda, he added.

Lagman also said that a continuation of the hearing "was not calendared the following day, March 11, 2020, which is the last session day before the Congress adjourns for its Lenten break." 

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has said Tuesday's hearing will tackle his proposal for the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN a permit to operate provisionally.

Lagman said, however, that "the NTC has no jurisdiction to grant a provisional authority to ABS-CBN after the lapse of its franchise because the inflexible rule is 'no franchise, no operation.'"

ABS-CBN's franchise will expire on May 4, 2020. The franchise's validity is also being challenged by Solicitor General Jose Calida through a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com