We should not be frozen into inaction by SC decision – Drilon on ABS-CBN franchise
MANILA, Philippines — “We should not be frozen into inaction by the decision of the Supreme Court.”
Senate Minority Franklin made this pronouncement after former Chief Justice Reynato Puno pointed out that the Supreme Court had ruled in 2003 that a TV station was required to have a franchise and that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) could not grant it a provisional permit without the license being issued by Congress.
Drilon earlier filed a concurrent resolution urging Congress to authorize THE NTC to grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to continue to operate while lawmakers in the 18th Congress deliberate on bills seeking to renew its franchise.
“We respect the position of former CJ Puno. But, the Senate, and the Congress, would also have the right to interpret the Constitution. The interpretation of the Constitution is not an exclusive monopoly of the Supreme Court,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, told reporters in an interview.
“A long list of jurisprudence recognized the authority of the implementing agencies — the executive department and the Congress — to express opinions on any issue,” he added.
“Remember: We are a co-equal branch, and until there is a controversy, we can interpret our powers. If there is a dispute, then the matter is brought to the Supreme Court for adjudication. Until that time, there is nothing to prevent us from interpreting our own plenary power,” he further said.
Drilon had filed the said resolution after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, during the Senate public services committee on ABS-CBN’s franchise on Monday, told senators that Congress could authorize the NTC, through a concurrent resolution, to grant the network provisional authority to operate pending its franchise renewal.
“Secretary Guevarra said that, on grounds of equity, the ABS-CBN can continue. Again, this is an opinion expressed by no less than the secretary of justice, whose opinion is binding on the entire executive branch. So this must be extended due respect,” the senator said.
Drilon further said there was “nothing wrong” with his filing of a concurrent resolution.
“Nothing wrong with it, because it is just expressing the sense of the Senate,” he said.
He was also asked about the bill filed by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. which seeks to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN until the end of December this year to give the House time to tackle pending bills seeking to renew it.
“Whatever is necessary in order to allow an objective debate on the renewal of the franchise, without the threat of ABS-CBN being closed,” Drilon said.