Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday filed a bill that seeks the non-expiration of a franchise whose renewal has been filed and remained pending in Congress.
Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 1530 amid the woes encountered by network giant ABS-CBN in the renewal of its legislative franchise, that eventually resulted in it going off the air last week on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
The bill seeks to amend Section 18, Book VII, Chapter 3 of Revised Administrative Code which provides for the non-expiration of a license, where the licensee has filed a timely and sufficient application for renewal, until a final determination on the application has been made.
Drilon’s amendment expands the provision to also include franchises granted by Congress.
“While it is recognized that a franchise, license or certificate is not a privilege, this rule must be tempered with considerations of equity, fairness, due process, and equal protection, particularly when the service being provided has been so woven into everyday life, that its abrupt cessation could give rise to devastating consequences,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
The application for renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise is still pending with the House of Representatives.
“We should prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future. We cannot afford to wake up one day without water, electricity or public transportation, only because an agency, a department or a branch of government failed to act on the renewal before the lapse of the license or franchise,” he added.
The bill, according to Drilon, would ensure that a license or franchise will not expire until the application for renewal has been acted upon by the agency, department, or branch of government that grants or renews such license or franchise.
“Inaction on a pending application shall not be considered a denial,” a portion of Drilon’s proposed amendment read.
“This makes it incumbent upon the issuing authority to act on an application and avoid situations where silence or inaction could effectively bar the operations of an enterprise,” the senator said.