Roque on ABS-CBN franchise denial: ‘We lost a media partner’

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued a statement Sunday concerning the Social Weather Stations poll, which found that 75 percent of Filipinos were in favor of Congress renewing the ABS-CBN franchise.

“We lost a media partner in information dissemination, considering that the broadcast network has one of the widest, if not the widest reach, in the archipelago,” Roque said in a statement posted in Office of the Presidential Spokesperson Facebook account.

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“The Palace notes the July 3-6 National Mobile Survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which shows that a majority of adult Filipinos believe that Congress should renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation,” he said.

The SWS’ National Mobile Phone Survey was conducted from July 3-6 as the House Committee on Legislative Franchises conducts hearings on the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

An on Friday, July 10, the panel adopted the Technical Working Group’s (TWG) Committee Resolution, which recommended the denial of the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application through 70 yes votes, 11 no votes, two inhibitions, and one abstention.

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Also read: House panel denies ABS-CBN franchise renewal application

Those who appealed to Congress to renew the network’s franchise was highest in Mindanao at 80 percent, followed by the Visayas at 77 percent, Balance Luzon at 74 percent, and Metro Manila at 69 percent.

“We reiterate that the granting of the broadcasting franchise is the sole and exclusive prerogative of Congress. As provided in Republic Act No. 7925, or the “Public Telecommunications Policy Act,” a franchise is “a privilege conferred upon a telecommunications entity by Congress, authorizing that entity to engage in a certain type of telecommunications service,” Roque said.

Roque also raised using the mechanism of the people’s initiative to grant ABS-CBN a franchise. He cited Article VI, Section 32 of the Constitution, which said Congress must “provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions therefrom, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws, or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by Congress.”

“Whether the franchise of ABS-CBN may be granted through a people’s initiative despite the clear wording of R.A. 7925, whether it matters that a franchise bill is a private bill that must “originate exclusively in the House of Representatives” in accordance with Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution — these and related questions we leave to the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of the appropriate interpretation of these provisions in the Constitution and our laws,” Roque added.

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