Bill averting franchise expiry due to regulator inaction moves forward


A BILL seeking to keep legislative franchises from expiring if Congress fails to act in time on renewal requests passed the Senate on second reading late on Monday.

Senate Bill 1530, if passed, will amend Section 18 of the Revised Administrative Code which provides for the non-expiration of a license if the license holder has sought an extension and the regulator has yet to make a decision.

Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, who wrote the bill, said the amendment would apply to franchises granted by Congress, noting that it would solve the problem of franchise holders whose renewals remain pending.

“It is acknowledged that there is a gap in the law in cases as exhibited in cases where a franchisee, having taken all the steps to renew its franchise, is unable to do so not due to its own fault, but due to Congress’ failure to act on the application,” Mr. Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As the principle of equity has been deemed insufficient to fill that gap, the timely passage of this measure is in order,” he added, noting that Congress has applied the same considerations in similar situations.

According to the bill, once an application for renewal of a franchise or license has been made, it cannot expire until the regulator in charge makes a final determination.

The bill hopes to address the “unfair and iniquitous closure” of operations due to the issuance of cease-and-desist orders, said Mr. Drilon, which resulted in job losses in the telecommunications and broadcast industries.

If approved, the concerned agency or branch of government would be required to act decisively on renewal applications and to express its decision in clear, unmistakable terms, he added.

“SB 1530 can save jobs and prevent and fix franchise woes caused by the inability of the grantee, in this case Congress, to act on an application for renewal in a timely manner,” Mr. Drilon said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan