By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has signed two laws renewing the franchises granted to the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat) and the University of Mindanao (UM) for 25 years.
Republic Act No. 11226 allows Philcomast “to install, maintain and operate in the country ground satellite terminal stations for telecommunication with satellite facilities and delivery to common carriers” under its franchise.
The franchise of UM, which also operates the University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network (UMBN), was extended under Republic Act No. 11238.
Copies of the two new laws were released by the Palace on Friday.
In RA 11226, the franchise of Philcomsat also included the right and privilege for cable and wireless operations, and for the purchase of equipment needed for operations.
The franchise grantee must also conform to the ethics of honest enterprise and not use its facilities for obscene or indecent transmission, or for dissemination of deliberately false information or will misrepresentation or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.
It must also operate and keep its stations and equipment in satisfactory manner, as well as improve such facilities to keep with the modern technology. The grantee shall also improve and upgrade its equipment, facilities, and services in compliance with the country’s free mobile disaster alerts law.
RA 11238, meantime, allows the UM to construct, install, operate and maintain radio and television stations under its renewed franchise.
The grantee must also provide free public service time to enable the government to issue announcements in times of emergencies and calamities.
The two laws included a provision about the special right reserved to the President in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency or disturbance of peace and order to temporarily take over and operate the stations; suspend operations in the interest of public safety and security; or authorize the temporary use and operation upon due compensation to the grantee.
“The radio spectrum is a finite resource that is part of the national patrimony and the use thereof is a privilege conferred upon the grantee by the State and may be withdrawn any time after due process,” the laws read.
The franchise is deemed revoked in the event the grantee fails to operate continuously for two years.