'Do your job,’ Palace tells Congress on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 03:56 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2020 04:50 PM

MANILA - Members of Congress should “do their job” in relation to pending bills for the renewal of broadcast network ABS-CBN’s franchise, Malacañang said Thursday.

It is the responsibility of Congress to deliberate on whether or not to grant or renew franchises, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said as he again distanced President Rodrigo Duterte from the issue surrounding ABS-CBN's franchise.

“As far as he (Duterte) is concerned, that issue is in the hands of Congress and he has nothing to do with it. Do their work,” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

Duterte also has this message to lawmakers, Panelo said: “You know your duties, you do not have to be prodded on to do your duties.”

Duterte has repeatedly said he would oppose ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, complaining of the network's supposed failure to air a paid campaign ad before the 2016 presidential elections. 

Analysts have said that Duterte’s threats influenced lawmakers, who have yet to act on pending bills seeking a renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise set to expire on March 30.

Still, Panelo said the President does not wish the network to shut down. 

Despite this, the government’s top lawyer still sought to invalidate the network’s license to operate before the Supreme Court over alleged “abuses” the company committed in relation to its franchise.

ABS-CBN, however, denied the allegations, saying it “did not violate the law.”

Last week, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano questioned the urgency of holding congressional hearings on ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise as he argued that doing so "will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress."

"Hindi [ito] ganoon ka-urgent. Bakit? Kasi hanggang March 2022, pwedeng mag-operate," he added.

(This is not that urgent. Why? Because ABS-CBN can operate until March 2022.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House franchise committee vice chair Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano also said the broadcast giant can operate until 2022 as long as there is a pending bill for its license renewal.

The network secured a 25-year franchise under Republic Act 7966, which was enacted on March 30, 1995.

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