MANILA - The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to extend the franchise of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) to install and operate private telecommunications services for another 25 years..
The bill principally authored by San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes secured the nod of all 224 House members present during the voting. It has been transmitted to the Senate for action, the House said in a statement released Sunday.
The INC, which disseminates bi-weekly preachings nationwide, needs a private telecommunications network to expand its flock, Robes said in the same statement.
"Immediate accessibility to pastoral guidance and counselling on a regular basis is a must for such an organization conscious about direct implementation of religious instructions to its locale officers and members," he said.
Under the bill, INC shall have the right to construct, establish, install, maintain, lease, purchase, and operate the corresponding transmitting and receiving stations, satellites, lines, systems, networks, international gateways, local exchanges, and platforms.
The term telecommunications shall include electronic communications.
The INC shall seek clearance from the public works department and concerned local governments for its telecom conduits.
The National Telecommunications Commission, meanwhile, shall have the authority to regulate the construction and operations of the sect's telecom system, the bill said.
The INC shall also submit to Congress an annual report on its compliance with the franchise.