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Let congressmen decide on fate of ABS-CBN franchise, Rodriguez tells Calida

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has appealed to Solicitor General Jose Calida to let congressmen decide over the fate of the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN amid its expiration by the end of March.

Rodriguez’s remarks came after Calida is reportedly planning to file a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court to question the return of the Kapamilya network to Lopez family in 1986.

Rodriguez stressed that Calida “should give a chance to Congress,”since the legislative body “has the exclusive authority to grant franchises or extend them.”

“There should no other body that should try to get this power away from Congress,” he said.

The former dean of San Sebastian College of Law reminded Calida that rather than questioning the ownership of ABS-CBN before the high tribunal, he should just allow members of the House committee on legislative franchises and the House of Representatives as a whole to dictate the fate of the Kapamilya network rather than creating a shortcut that would only further project the current administration as enemy of the free press.

“Let us decide, the majority (of congressmen) will decide—grant the ABS-CBN renewal or not,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, one of the nine lawmakers who recently filed similar legislations to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-years legislative franchise case also reminded Committee of legislative franchise chair and Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez that it would be bad if the broadcast giant’s franchise would lapse by March just because of inaction on his part.

“Please call these bills for hearing because it is the right of congressmen to file bills. It is our right that our bills should be heard,” Rodriguez stressed.

“It cannot just, it would just lapse because of inaction? That would be really a bad move on the part of the committees to be able not to hear the bills filed by 11 congressmen,” he added.

Rodriguez said “time is of the essence” right now since there are only 21 sessions days remaining before Congress’ adjournment on March 11.

ABS-CBN needs to secure the passage of their congressional franchise on or before March 30, 2020—the expiration date set by its current franchise under Republic Act No. 7966—or the network will have to cease operating as a broadcast network if Congress fails to act on the franchise bill.

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