Senate presses House to act on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

(UPDATED) Senator Grace Poe says the Senate will discuss the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise even though the House of Representatives has no plans of tackling it

Rappler.com

Published: 8:24 PM February 17, 2020

Updated: 6:30 PM February 18, 2020

FRANCHISE RENEWAL. Members of the media staged a rally at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City to condemn Solicitor General Calida's quo warranto petition to void ABS-CBN's franchise. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Even without the House of Representatives moving on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation, the Senate is set to tackle it.

Senator Grace Poe said at a press briefing on Monday, February 17, the Senate is discussing the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise. (FAST FACTS: What you should know about ABS-CBN)

Her pronouncement comes in the wake of a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida on February 10 to void the franchise altogether and after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano downplayed on February 14 the urgency of the renewal. (WATCH: NUJP, ABS-CBN staff protest Calida's quo warranto petition)

"It is our hope that they will act on it already because as we know, the franchise of ABS-CBN will end this March. However, it's the prerogative of the House, whether or not they will hear it. But in the case of the Senate, I think we should be able to exercise our mandate, otherwise we are not fulfilling our responsibility. Malinaw naman 'yun. (That's clear)," Poe said.

On February 17, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 11, which seeks to extend ABS-CBN Corporation's franchise to December 31, 2022. This, he said, would give time for Congress to study the bills that are seeking its renewal. 

The House of Representatives is not scheduled to discuss the issue in the coming weeks and even if the Senate finishes its work in relation to the franchise, ABS-CBN will still be forced to close down its radio and television operations if the House does not come to a decision.

There are at least 8 bills pending in the House pertaining to the franchise renewal.

The Senate hearing is set to be held on February 27.

ABS-CBN's franchise renewal has been strongly opposed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who accused the network of not running advertisements he paid for during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Various media groups like the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Defend Jobs Philippines, and Altermidya have protested the delay of the renewal, which, they slammed as an attack on press freedom.

ABS-CBN executives have also protested the possible shutdown of the media network, urging supporters to continue to fight for the renewal of their franchise. – Rappler.com