On the latest SWS National Mobile Survey

The Palace notes the July 3-6 National Mobile Survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which shows that a majority of adult Filipinos believe that Congress should renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation.

We lost a media partner in information dissemination, considering that the broadcast network has one of the widest, if not the widest reach, in the archipelago.

That being said, we reiterate that the granting of the broadcasting franchise is the sole and exclusive prerogative of Congress. As provided in Republic Act No. 7925, or the “Public Telecommunications Policy Act,” a franchise is “a privilege conferred upon a telecommunications entity by Congress, authorizing that entity to engage in a certain type of telecommunications service.”

We also take note of the discussions around using the mechanism of the people’s initiative to grant ABS-CBN a franchise. As provided in Article VI, Section 32 of the Constitution, Congress must “provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions therefrom, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws, or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by Congress.” That system is presently found in Republic Act No. 6735, or the “Initiative and Referendum Act”.

Whether the franchise of ABS-CBN may be granted through a people’s initiative despite the clear wording of R.A. 7925, whether it matters that a franchise bill is a private bill that must “originate exclusively in the House of Representatives” in accordance with Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution — these and related questions we leave to the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of the appropriate interpretation of these provisions in the Constitution and our laws.

We will defer to the Court if ever it rules on this issue in the future.