Retired Supreme Court CJ Reynato Puno answers questions whether: ABS-CBN can continue without new franchise or not, NTC can give authority to operate

As the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise hangs in the balance, the public wonders what will happen to their favorite TV channel after March 30, 2020?

House Speaker Alan Cayetano and SP Tito Sotto say that ABS-CBN can continue its operation beyond March 30, 2020 since they have pending applications asking for a new franchise in Congress.

Are they correct? No, says One PH reporter Marlene Alcaide as far as the SC decision in 2003 which disallowed Associated Communications & Wireless Services United Broadcasting Networks to broadcast without a franchise issued by Congress.

Retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato Puno, author of that 2003 SC decision, said that ABS-CBN and its subsidiary Convergence Incorporated cannot broadcast once their legislative franchise expires on March 30, 2020.

Puno added that the NTC have no power to give provisional permit. “Itong ABS-CBN, once their franchise expires cannot get from National Telecommunication Commission the authority to operate after the expiration of its franchise. The National Telecommunication Commission does not have that power.”

But wait, Puno has a piece of good news for the supporters of ABS-CBN.

According to Puno, Congress an do something to allow ABC-CBN to continue its operation even without a franchise. “Meanwhile, Congress taking time deliberating whether to grant or not a new franchise to ABS-CBN, I would like to think that, it has all the subsidiary powers and one of those subsidiary powers is to preserve the status quo. Parang judicial din yan eh. Halimbawa itong Supreme Court assumes jurisdiction over a casem, di ba silay may kapangyarihan mag-issue ng TRO.”

On the plan of the senate to conduct a hearing on the franchise renewal of the TV network, Puno cited the Constitution which states that the required bill for such purpose emanate from the Lower House. But it was not stated if the Senate has the power to intervene when the Lower House refuses to act on the franchise application.

Puno believed it is high time to give clarity on the issue. “There are powers that say, the powers should emanate exclusively from the House. So again, what are the parameters of the power in the particular case, that the powers involved.”

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