By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is expecting the Congress, Solicitor General Jose Calida, and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to “do their job” regarding the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise to operate and the possibility of the broadcast network’s operating beyond March 30, when their franchise expires.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after some lawmakers said that, by practice, ABS-CBN can continue operating until March 2022 even if their franchise expires next month because there was already a pending bill seeking the renewal of their license.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said there might be a problem if ABS-CBN will continue operating beyond March 30 even if they would be allowed to do so pending the approval of their franchise because it was “already a practice.”
“According to them there is a practice of extending the franchise, but the legality of that would be questionable. If someone questioned at the Supreme Court, may problema sila diyan (They will have a problem),” he said.
“But what is important is, the President said they should do something about it, meaning to say do their job. If there is a pending application before Congress, then members of Congress should deliberate on it and decide whether or not to grant or to deny the extension,” he added.
Congress, do your job!
Panelo said Congress should do their job especially since President Duterte was being blamed for the impasse over ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
“If they are so minded to extend the franchise of any holder, all they can do is to pass a law because if the expiration period comes, then it is expired,” he said.
“As far as he (President Duterte) is concerned, that issue is in the hands of Congress and he has nothing to do with it. Do their work,” he added.
Panelo said if the duties of Congress are to pass laws, investigate in aid of legislation, and deliberate on franchises, then they should “do their job,” noting that President Duterte’s rants against the broadcast media giant did not have an effect on them.
“I don’t know what kind of bills they will tackle, but what we’re saying is you know your duties. You do not have to be prodded on to do your duties,” he said.
“[President Duterte’s rants has] no effect at all. They know the President was making utterances in reference of his being a victim of fraud by the entity,” he added.
Calida, do your job!
Panelo likewise said the government may file a petition in case ABS-CBN continues to operate after March 30. However, he said he was leaving it to Calida since going after franchise violators was his job.
“That’s for the SolGen (Solicitor General) to decide. That’s his job. If he feels that there is any violation of any law, then he should do his job,” he said. “There is doubt whether that (operating with an expired franchise) is legal or not. Whether or not SolGen will initiate an action, you will have to ask him. That’s his territory.”
The Palace official, however, said President Duterte will not interfere with Calida’s job.
“I will repeat the policy of this President. He does not interfere with the heads of offices or agencies. They know their duties and he’ll always say, just do what the law tells you should do,” Panelo said.
NTC, do your job!
Panelo likewise said it was up to the NTC if they would cut ABS-CBN’s signal if the company would continue to operate beyond March 30.
“I suppose the NTC knows its job. We don’t have to tell them what to do, and I don’t know what are they going to do,” he said.
READ MORE: ABS-CBN: We did not violate the law