Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA – Despite various actions from both Chambers of Congress seeking to extend the validity of ABS-CBN’s franchise, the law prohibits the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from issuing a provisional permit for the network to continue beyond the terms of its franchise, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday.

Klaro sa jurisprudence, which is now part of the law of the land, na without a legislative franchise, hindi mag-i-issue ng provisional permit ang NTC (It is clear under jurisprudence, that without a legislative franchise, the NTC cannot issue a provisional permit),” Lacson said in a press briefing, citing the 2003 Supreme Court decision penned by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

“So I don’t know where the House of Representatives, the leadership at least, is coming from when they wrote NTC to issue a provisional permit. Klaro naman sa batas; ang legislation nasa amin, wala sa NTC (It is clear in the law: legislation is with Congress, not with the NTC),” he said.

The House earlier sent a letter to the NTC to allow the continued operation of the network pending final determination of its franchise renewal.

Lacson also said it is for the same reason that he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III have reservations in signing the concurrent resolution filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Drilon filed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 6 to express the sense of Congress that ABS-CBN “should be allowed to operate under the terms of its existing franchise pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the 18th Congress.”

The resolution also asked the NTC to issue the appropriate provisional authority to the broadcast network, after it noted that Congress has only a few session days remaining before the franchise of ABS-CBN expires on May 4.

Lacson pointed out that a concurrent resolution, or even a joint resolution, cannot amend an existing law, as decided by the SC.

Hindi magagamit ng NTC ang joint or concurrent resolution to issue a provisional permit. So nagmumukha lang kaming parang nakakatawa naman na gagawa kami ng resolution na alam naming, maski halimbawa gawin ng NTC mag-issue ng provisional permit, illegal din yan (The NTC cannot use a joint or concurrent resolution to issue a provisional permit. So we will just look silly if we make a resolution that we know, that if ever the NTC will issue a provisional permit, is still illegal),” he said.

“So maski 1,000 joint resolutions na walang effect and force of law ang ipadala namin sa NTC, anong gagawin ng NTC after May 4? Expired pa rin ‘yan (Even if we send NTC 1,000 resolutions that have no effect and force of law, what will the NTC do after May 4? The franchise is still expired),” Lacson said.

The Puno decision also invalidates the “equity principle” being touted by the network’s supporters, Lacson said.

The equity principle was floated by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra last Monday, noting that considerations of equity have been applied in previous similar situations, “all of whom were allowed to operate despite expired franchises as long as the application for the renewal of these franchises is lodged with the Congress before the lapse of their term.”

Kung na-practice (If it was practiced) before, it will not legalize kung wala sa batas (if it is not in the law). Yan ang sinasabi ni CJ Puno (That’s what Puno was saying). Ang practice in the past does not make it legal,” Lacson said.

Lacson said the House should just act on the pending measures on the renewal of the network’s legislative franchise as it is the only way for ABS-CBN to continue operating.

Wala akong nakitang remedyo kung walang legislative franchise (I don’t see any remedy if there is no legislative franchise),” he said. (PNA)