Press Release
March 4, 2020

Senate adopts resolution allowing ABS-CBN to operate beyond franchise expiration

The Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution "expressing the sense of the Senate" to allow television giant ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiaries to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise set on May 4, 2020.

Senate Resolution 6, filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on February 26, 2020, expresses the sense of the Senate that ABS-CBN "should continue to operate pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the 18th Congress."

The resolution, in consideration with Senate Resolutions 7, 8 and 344 filed by "almost all" senators, was adopted without any objection from among those present in plenary.

The adopted resolution can be used as basis by the National Telecommunications Commission to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue its broadcast operations after the franchise expires.

During the previous hearing of the Committee on Public Services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra suggested that Congress should allow, through a resolution, NTC to issue a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN Corp.

During interpellation and period of amendments, Drilon agreed that his concurrent resolution be made a simple resolution since the same does not have "the force and effect of the law."

Replying to the question of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, Drilon explained that the concurrent resolution does not have the force and effect of a law. "It only formally conveys the sense of the Senate about extending the franchise and does not need the signature of the President," Drilon said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, at the start of the interpellation, asked why the NTC needs Congress to come out with a resolution when it issued in the past provisional authorities to operate to several corporate giants such as GMA 7, Smart Communications and CBCP, among others.

Drilon said the resolution, though just an expression of the sense of the Senate, "would give some degree of legal stability" if Congress could issue authority to the NTC.

Asked by Sen. Francis Tolentino as to how it would affect the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, Drilon said the matter before the Supreme Court is separate from the resolution to be adopted by the Senate.

"Let the ABS-CBN defend its position before the Supreme Court... (and) it's the look-out of the Supreme Court (Justices) if they will be influenced (by the resolution)," Drilon said.

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