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Malacanang gives ABS-CBN option to apply for new franchise

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Malacanang Palace said ABS-CBN Corp. can apply for a new license to operate in case that its 25-year legislative franchise is not renewed.

“Kaya nga meron silang (That’s why they have) application for (new franchise). That’s the whole point,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview with Palace reporters.

His statement came after Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s top counsel, filed before the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN due to its supposed “highly abusive practices” at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers.

In his petition filed Monday, Calida alleged that ABS-CBN violated the 1987 Constitution after it allowed foreign entities to invest in its broadcast firm by issuing Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corp.

Under Section 11(1), Article 16 of the Constitution, ownership and management of mass media is limited to “citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives, or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

Panelo said Calida’s move was “sensible and logical.”

“That’s his job. What if someone, other than Calida, found that ABS-CBN made a violation? Calida would face a complaint for the dereliction of duty. So he will be on the defensive side. He’s just doing his duty,” he said.

ABS-CBN only has until March 30 to operate, unless it is granted another franchise renewal by Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte.

However, lawmakers have yet to deliberate whether they will extend or not the franchise of ABS-CBN to another 25 years.

On Wednesday, Panelo told Congress to set aside Duterte’s “displeasure” against the local media giant.

Panelo made his comment after House legislative franchises vice chairperson and Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano admitted the tiff between Duterte and ABS-CBN gives pressure to congressmen.

In a speech delivered Wednesday night, Duterte assured the Philippine media that under his watch, he will not allow any possible abuse of privileges vested in them.

Duterte made the vow despite his grievances against ABS-CBN for its supposed bias and failure to run his campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential derby.

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