KEEP IT ALIVE! People Power para sa ABS-CBN. — Cong. Edcel Lagman ng Liberal Party

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Alvarez says ABS-CBN may continue to operate without franchise; Lagman says uphold freedom of the press

February 24, 2020

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman on Monday called on Filipinos to keep the EDSA People Power spirit burning by resisting alleged attempts to suppress freedoms of the press, expression, and dissent, linking these to the ABS-CBN franchise renewal saga.

This developed as Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, declared his support of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s stand that the network giant will continue to operate even if its current legislative franchise expires before it can be renewed.

The House panel started Monday the processing of the nine ABS-CBN Corporation franchise renewal bills by accepting position papers of both oppositors and supporters of the beleaguered network.

“Naging practice po iyan na kahit nag-lapse na po iyong buhay ng franchise noong naturang network, habang dinidinig po iyan, ay pinababaayan lang po iyan ng NTC. Nangyari na po iyan dati sa dinidinig naman po iyong renewal,” Alvarez said in an interview with Channel 2-DZMM commentators Anthony Taberna and Jorge Carino.

(It has become the practice that when the franchise of a certain network lapses, so long as it is being heard, the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) allows it. This has happened before.)

Alvarez noted that the same thing happened when the legislative franchise of the Catholic-run broadcast station Radio Veritas lapsed.

He explained that the House panel is currently coordinating with the NTC to get a guarantee of ABS-CBN’s continued operation notwithstanding the absence of a legislative franchise.

The administration lawmaker also disclosed that the legislative franchise panel may start conducting hearings on the franchise measures either in May or August.

In his EDSA Revolution statement, Lagman recalled that when then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, he “unconstitutionally” closed 292 radio stations, 66 community newspapers, 11 English magazines, seven major English dailies, one Spanish daily, and seven television stations, including ABS-CBN and GMA 7.

“The imminent closure of the ABS-CBN Corporation due to the malevolent non-renewal of its legislative franchise will be the second time the network will be forced to cease operations,” Lagman noted.

He said this “horrific specter of the martial law regime” should unite all sectors to “protect and uphold the freedom of expression, the right to dissent, press freedom, and people’s free access to information through media.”

“EDSA’s legacy must not be sacrificed to personal grievances and partisan intolerance,” Lagman said.

Alvarez says ABS-CBN may continue to operate without franchise; Lagman says uphold freedom of the press