Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno said, policies on issuing franchises— including the question of whether the power should emanate from the House of Representatives— can be revisited.
A former CJ said Congress can review its chambers’ powers in granting legislative franchises— amid the controversial license renewal case of media giant ABS-CBN.
The former top magistrate said that while a franchise usually involves local interest, ABS-CBN’s operation is a different case because it affects people in general and not only of local application.
The media network’s franchise renewal case was highlighted by Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition for the to nullify ABS-CBN’s license that is set to expire in May. Calida’s quo warranto petition cited “highly abusive” practices by the network— including foreign ownership and operational issues— allegations that ABS-CBN had refuted.
Prior to the petition, President Rodrigo Duterte has ranted against ABS-CBN, saying the network refused to carry his campaign commercials in 2016 even if they had already been paid for. Last year, he suggested that the Lopezes just sell the company to a new owner as he would make sure that the TV station would be out of business by 2020.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier hit the Senate for its move to hold a separate inquiry, when the lower chamber has yet to calendar a hearing on the matter.
Cayetano said the upper chamber’s probe—which already took place on Monday—would violate the Constitution, as the franchise bills should emanate from the House. A total of 11 measures on ABS-CBN’s renewal remain pending in the committee level.
The House committee on legislative franchises has begun its proceedings on the case, with the panel seeking comments from lawmakers and stakeholders alike. However, formal hearings may only start in May at the earliest, the panel’s top members said.
In this case, Cayetano chamber already gearing towards impoundment of measures tantamount to abuse of discretion. The House is mandated to initiates bill of local applications including private bills.
However, there is a positive upshot following the hearing conducted by the senate last week and the network already narrated their side and asked for an apology to the president and the president accepted the apology from the ABS-CBN management.
Why single out ABS while there are other similarly situated franchises who got their immediate approval without any hustle.
Puno is right for bringing this issue to the public because there is already a stalemate between the two chambers. Although, they are co-equal in the sphere of legislative hall, however, they should not shield the bill instead they should act with dispatched. The expiration is already there and they should treat this measure imbued with public interest.
Why prolonging the agony when they can act now. If there is a will, there is a way.