THE law passed by the 9th Congress in March 1995 that gave ABS-CBN the authority to operate as a TV and radio network is crystal clear: “The franchise shall be for a term of twenty-five years from the date of effectivity of this Act.”
Period. Absolutely nothing in that law (and in all franchises) has a qualification that when that 25-year period ends, ABS-CBN can still operate until the end of the current 18th Congress if there are pending bills to renew the franchise.
Only if the current Congress renews its franchise can ABS-CBN continue to operate, sources knowledgeable about this current issue explained. Without a franchise, all the frequencies automatically revert back to government, they said.
There is no provision in the law–which exists only in the imagination of a few members of Congress, amazingly even in the minds of Senate President Vicente Sotto and House Speaker Alan Cayetano — that says that ABS-CBN can operate without a franchise until the end of the current Congress if there are pending bills to give it such authority.
It is astonishing that with the tens of millions of pesos in research funds the two leaders of the two chambers of Congress have, they haven’t heard of nor read the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in the Associated Communications v. National Telecommunications Commission (GR 144109).