Did ABS-CBN violate the Constitution’s provision on franchise periods?
According to two ABS-CBN franchise bill authors, the Kapamilya network did not violate such privision in the Constitution.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlo Zarate said that the 50 year-limit is the maximum duration that Congress can grant in each franchise law it approves, but it does not forbid companies from getting a renewal.
In an article by ABS-CBN News on May 27, Rodriguez said that “Congress can give 50 years in one instance and it can be extended for another 50 years and so on. However, the practice is to give 25 years every instance or issuance. The Constitution is very clear.”
Zarate also shared that following Rep. Marcoleta’s logic at the House of Representatives hearing on May 26 would mean that older broadcast stations should be shutdown too.
In fact, a quick Google search revealed that there are more than 20 radio and TV stations in the country that have been operating beyond 50 years.
There’s GMA Network’s DZBB 594 AM (70 years), TV5 (59 years), Manila Broadcasting Company’s DYRC 648 AM (91 years), Philippine Broadcasting Service’s DZRB 738 AM (73 years), and Radio Veritas Global Broadcating System’s DZRV 846AM (51 years), among many others.
On Tuesday’s hearing (May 26), people were also quick to note that Rep. Rodante Marcoleta’s arguments just seem to recycle accusations about ABS-CBN that have been answered and cleared already. Among the allegations he presented were foreign ownership via PDRs and the citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus, Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) supervising commissioner Ephyro Luis Amaton said in the Senate hearing in February that ABS-CBN Holdings’ PDR holders “are not owners of the underlying corporation,” which means that they do not have voting rights that determines ownership.
ABS-CBN also reiterated on May 11 that Gabby Lopez is a Filipino citizen since he was born to Filipino parents and that under the 1935 Constitution that was in effect at that time, he is automatically a Filipino citizen despite being born in the U.S.