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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Sunday criticized the House leadership for setting an apparently “cosmetic and inconsequential’ hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on March 10.

“The one-day limited ‘hearing’ on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on Tuesday, 10 March 2020 at 1:00 PM, by the House committee on legislative franchises appears to be cosmetic and inconsequential,” the Liberal Party lawmaker said.

Lagman, who earlier said he “appreciated” the House move, questioned why Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano “emphasized that the setting would concentrate on the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) response to his instruction that meanwhile it should grant the broadcast giant a provisional authority to operate pending the congressional renewal of its franchise.”

“It is well-settled in law and jurisprudence that only an applicant which has an existing and valid franchise can secure from NTC a provisional authority or a certificate of public convenience and necessity,” he said.

“Verily, 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,’” he said.

“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,” Lagman said.

“Not even the consideration of House Resolution 639, which was signed by 91 Representatives, urging the committee on legislative franchises to immediately act on the pending bills was included in the agenda,” he said.

“The continuation of the so-called ‘hearing’ was not calendared the following day, 11 March 2020, which is the last session day before the Congress adjourns for its Lenten break,” Lagman said.

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