REP. LAWRENCE “LAW” H. FORTUN
Agusan del Norte 1st District
Member for the Minority
Co-Author, HR 639 supporting the renewal of ABS-CBN Franchise
A lawyer by profession | Mobile number 09177292437
LEGISLATIVE FRANCHISES COMMITTEE MUST RESUME WORK ON ABS-CBN BILL
Committee should work while Congress is in recess in June and July
We were able to gain some time and found a way to get ABS-CBN back on air on free tv, so that millions of Filipinos who lost contact with the outside world during COVID-19 will regain their vital daily lifeline.
This is a welcome development. It gives Congress ample time to deliberate on the issues involving ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of franchise. Now we have learned our lesson. We could have resorted to this measure early on and prevented a situation where the fate of an application for franchise is placed in the hands of an disingenuous commission whose commissioners, without qualms, wantonly disregarded a commitment made under oath before both Houses of Congress.
This bill grants a provisional extension of the franchise. The NTC should regard this bill, once approved as law an automatic extension of the ABS-CBN franchise.
The approved bill is also a mandate to the House committee on legislative franchises to get its job done on the ABS-CBN franchise bill and give the Senate enough time to act on the franchise before the extension expires.
Waste time the committee must not. It can keep working even during the recess in June and July.
Our colleagues in the Senate now have the ball in their court, so to speak. The senators may have their own ideas on the construction of the provisions. The senators could have a counter-proposal. Any reconciliation of bills would be done at the bicameral committee.
We hope the Senate can act on the matter expeditiously. We have three weeks left, and should there be certain disagreements, that should be sufficient time to thresh these out the issues to come out with a common position, approve the bill and transmit the same to the president before our session ends.
This bill does not mean the NTC is off the hook. We will still hold them accountable for their direct affront to the constitutional authority of Congress on legislative franchises. (END)