Ex-CJ Puno, Senator Drilon Say NTC Cannot Grant ABS-CBN License to Operate

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Senator Franklin Drilon weigh in on ABS-CBN franchise extension.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Senator Franklin Drilon insisted that ABS-CBN should not operate if its franchise expires on March 30, 2020. Nevertheless, Drilon has filed a joint resolution seeking the franchise extension of ABS-CBN until 2022. 

In a February 21 report on One News, Puno cited a Supreme Court decision in February 2003 regarding the case of Associated Communications & Wireless Services United Broadcasting Network, Inc. (ACWS) versus National Telecommunicatons Commission (NTC).

The Supreme Court barred ACWS from further broadcasting without a new legislative franchise from Congress, which is the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

"If ABS-CBN's franchise expires, it cannot get from the National Telecommunications Commission the authority to operate," said Puno. “The National Telecommunications Commission does not have that power.”

“Meanwhile that Congress is taking time in deliberating whether to grant or not to grant a new franchise to ABS-CBN, I would like to think that it has only subsidiary powers and one of those subsidiary powers is to preserve the status quo," he added. 

"That's similar to the judiciary. For example, when the Supreme Court assumes jurisdiction over a case, doesn;t it have the power to issue a temporary restraining order or other lesser writs?"

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Puno as Chief Justice in 2006. He served as Chief Justice until his retirement in 2010. 

Drilon filed bill seeking to extend ABS-CBN's franchise 

Drilon is one of the lawmakers who have filed bills and resolutions seeking to extend ABS-CBN's franchise until 2022. 

“It's not for ABS-CBN. It is for Congress to be given time to review the very serious allegations made by Solicitor General [Jose Calida] in the Supreme Court,” said Drilon, referring to his resolution. 


But Drilon believes that if the franchise lapses on March 30, the network should not be allowed to operate. 

In an interview with Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart, Drilon repeated Puno's opinion that ABS-CBN may not operate if its franchise expires on March 30.  Their opinion is contrary to the views of some legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

"The Supreme Court has squarely ruled that a franchisee cannot anymore operate as a broadcast station if there's no longer a franchise.

"Of course, there is this view [from politicians], but you are taking a risk that the Supreme Court will rule otherwise as it has ruled in some cases.”

Drilon also said that the law does not allow the NTC to grant temporary operations permits to any station that has expired franchise. 

Drilon says franchise renewal is within the purview of Congress, not the Supreme Court

Drilon emphasized that Congress, not the Supreme Court, is the the correct venue for discussing and resolving issues concerning franchise renewal.

“Whether or not ABS-CBN has violated the terms of its franchise, it would have to be passed upon by Congress because we are in the process of renewing. The jurisdiction is with us," said Drilon.

If Drilon's joint resolution passes in Congress and is approved by Duterte, it will have the same binding effect as any law. It will help save the livelihood of more than 11,000 employees of ABS-CBN. 

“I don't want to risk the livelihood of the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees on a theory that ABS-CBN and its 11,000 employees can continue after March 30 without a franchise," said Drilon. 

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This story was translated from Edits have been made by the editors.

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