Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s supporter and a social media influencer criticized the Senate’s decision to approve into third reading the bill that seeks the non-expiration of legislative franchises, on Wednesday, December 15.
Luminous by Trixie Cruz-Angeles & Ahmed Paglinawan said that if the bill materialized into law during ABS-CBN’s franchise expiration, it would have been allowed to continue airing its channel.
“So, kung ang bill na ito ay naipasa nung hindi pa nag expire franchise ng ABS-CBN, as long as di pa gina-grant o deny ng Congress ang panibagong franchise, TULOY PA RIN ANG PAG BROADCAST,” they wrote on their facebook account.
They stressed that such a law would be subject to abuse since congressmen may ignore the expired franchise to keep operating.
“Kung maipasa yung bill ni Sen. Drilon at Rep Joy Tambunting, halos unli na ang prankisa. Kasi kahit pa nag expire na, as long as hindi tine-take up o natatapos ang deliberations ng Kongreso, CONSIDERED extended and franchise nila.
“So kung TV station ka, tuloy ang ligaya sa pag-broadcast. All the congressmen have to do is ignore their franchise renewal. Ang galing nila no.”
Senate Bill No. 1530 aims to amend Section 18, Book VII, Chapter 3 of the Revised Administrative Code.
It was authored by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon with hopes of addressing the “unfair and iniquitous” closure of franchisee operations such as ABS-CBN because of the issuance of cease and desist orders when a franchise expires while its renewal is pending.
“It will prevent the repeat of what happened to broadcast network ABS-CBN, a pillar of our media industry and pioneer of many innovations, whose franchise remained in limbo prior to the denial by a House of Representatives panel, in the meantime causing premature loss of 11,000 jobs,” said Drilon in a statement.
The bill could have prevented ABS-CBN’s shutdown due to “violations.”
Alleged violations such as exploiting loopholes in paying taxes, foreign ownership, and even loans from the state-run bank, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), were used to deny the Network its franchise.
However, these were mere allegations since government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) testified that ABS-CBN did not violate any laws.
The DBP also refuted the claim that they have written off loans by the Network.
“There’s no condonation or write-off. There was a transfer or sale of loan accounts,” DBP chief compliance officer Atty. Soraya Adiong said during the ABS-CBN franchise hearing in 2020.
The accusations, though unproven, still resulted in ABS-CBN being denied a franchise renewal with a vote of 70-11.
While the hearing for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal was still ongoing, the Senate has discussed the possibility of making Senate Bill No. 1530 into law.
This could have prevented the Network’s shutdown after the expiration of its franchise since the bill would have prohibited the issuance of the cease and desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against ABS-CBN.
With the bill going into a third and final reading, ABS-CBN and other TV stations in the Philippines will have the possibility of not fearing any future shutdowns once their franchises expire.