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Ridon: Congress can’t freeze ABS-CBN’s franchise

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Former Presidential Commission on Urban Poor chair Terry Ridon clarified there was no such thing as freezing a franchise of a television network.

Ridon’s statement came as a reaction to a newspaper report that the House of Representatives has frozen the renewal of the congressional franchise of network giant ABS-CBN.

Ridon, a former Kabataan Party-list congressman and member of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises during the 16th Congress, explained that the Lower House can’t just freeze an existing franchise of a media entity. He said lawmakers simply did not act on the franchise renewal application of the Kapamilya network.

“In simple terms, Congress simply did not act on the franchise renewal bill during the 17th Congress, especially with only a few weeks to go until the present term of office ends,” said Ridon.

ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills were filed by Nueva Ecija Rep. Violago under House Bill No. 4349 and by former Davao City Congressman and now Cabinet Sec. Karlo Alexei Nograles under House Bill No. 8163.

Article 12 Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution states that “Neither shall any such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires.”

Under the present charter, the application for franchise is done through a normal legislative process in both the Lower House and Senate and is still need to be signed by the President after its Congressional approval.

The former PCUP chair said the news item “diminishes Congress as a supposedly separate and independent institution from the President, particularly on matters relating to legislative franchises which is constitutionally determined as the province of the legislature.”

“If the ABS-CBN franchise ends without renewal in March 2020, it should not be because of the reasons stated by the anonymous source in the article,” said Ridon.

President Rodrigo Duterte on many occasions vowed that he will oppose the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN in Congress.

Ridon, who is a currently hosting a weekly radio program in the Kapamilya network, said the franchise renewal bill can be re-filed again this coming 18th Congress.

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