Legal opinion of a Christian Lawyer on the technical issue of ABS-CBN franchise renewal
Legal Attorney and Christian Pastor Florante A. Zagada illuminates for us the legal controversies of the ABS-CBN franchise. According to Zagada, ABS-CBN applied for renewal in 2014. It should have been settled then, but small cable operators protested. Before Christians condemn anyone, the “Rule of Law” must be upheld, he emphasized.
Franchise is a privilege granted by the Congress
Moving forward, ABS-CBN caught the ire of President Duterte because of the alleged political bias. He vouched to prevent renewal. If your driver’s license became invalid because it expired, it’s not LTO’s fault. “To my mind, you cannot technically accuse someone of injustice for not giving you a privilege,” according to Attorney Zagada.
Time was the enemy of ABS-CBN
Unfortunately, just when the renewal of application was to be tackled, it was overtaken by the Taal eruption then COVID-19 – there were no lawmakers to convene. Likewise, NTC’s “cease and desist” order has legal mooring. Since there was no legislative franchise, allowing ABS-CBN to operate without it is susceptible to graft and corrupt practices, Attorney Zagada reiterated.
Zagada said, “How can the NTC issue a provisional permit to operate when the network franchise has already expired? It is a “dead” franchise, so to speak.” The Supreme Court will have to resolve the issue of the validity of their franchise without prejudice on the part of ABS-CBN to apply and pursue a new franchise.
NTC commissioners cannot allow ABS-CBN to operate without a “legislative franchise”
Although people lost their jobs, at least for now, the Rule of Law needs to be upheld. “We are a government of laws and not of men. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS must be preserved but not at the expense of the RULE OF LAW,” he said.