By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez has reminded broadcast giant ABS-CBN that the grant of a legislative franchise “is not a right, but a privilege” amidst the impending expiration of its current franchise this coming March.
Alvarez made the statement as he gave an assurance to the Kapamilya Network that the House leadership “would be fair and objective in reviewing its application for the renewal of its franchise.”
Alvarez, chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises , explained that “this congressional grant allowing it to continue its operations is a privilege, and not a right, under the law.”
“We should all be reminded that under the law, the grant of a franchise is not a right, but a privilege… this is why we have to hear all sides, and find out if ABS-CBN violated the provisions of its franchise,” said Alvarez.
ABS-CBN’s franchise to operate is set to expire this coming March 30.
Under Republic Act No. 3846, radio and television broadcast stations are required to seek a franchise from Congress before being allowed to operate.
Alvarez noted that the Supreme Court in the case of Radio Communications Philippines Inc. v. National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has already stated that the grant of a franchise is “merely a privilege emanating from the sovereign power of the state and owing its existence to a grant, is subject to regulation by the state itself by virtue of its police power through its administrative agencies.”
Alvarez stressed his panel will thoroughly study and hear all sides regarding ABS-CBN’s application for its franchise renewal.
“The advice of Speaker Alan (Peter Cayetano) to us was to make sure that we would be always fair and impartial in reviewing the application of ABS-CBN, or the application of any other public utility,” said Alvarez
He said that “it is Congress’ duty to accept complaints and hear issue brought up in any contain or objection.”
Alvarez’s panel in 2019 failed tackle the proposed legislation in connection with the franchise renewal of the Kapamilya network.
The Palawan solon who also chairs the franchise panel during the 17th Congress did nothing over the franchise renewal application of the broadcast giant.
Last December 30, President Rodrigo Duterte who have accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting and of “swindling” him said that the executives of the media conglomerate should just sell the network rather than face closure.
“Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo, mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung mangyari. Ako pa sa’yo, pagbili na ninyo ‘yan,” said Duterte during Rizal Day speech in Davao City.