THE House Committee on Legislative Franchise has approved three legislative franchise applications.
However, the committee has yet to discuss the six bills filed for the renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Led by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, the committee approved the franchise extension of the First United Broadcasting Corporation and applications of Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative and the Bicol Light and Power Corporation (BLPC).
The bills for the ABS-CBN’s application for a 25-year franchise extension were not yet “calendared” or scheduled for discussion.
Last Congress, the committee also did not tackle the bills for the network’s renewal of franchise.
TheABS-CBN’s legislative franchise is due to expire by March 2020.
Meanwhile, party-list groups representing electric cooperatives assailed the approval of the BLPC that has threatened the existence of the Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative.
The approval of House Bill 407 or the proposed BLPC franchise drew strong protest from the two party-list organizations that warned the measure will violate the National Electrification Administration Act.
Reps. Presley de Jesus (Philreca) and Godofredo Guya (Recoboda) said the law prohibits the grant of franchise to any person within the area of which a cooperative holds a franchise.
De Jesus said the entry of a private firm like the BPLC, as energy distribution in Camarines Sur should be examined closely by lawmakers, saying that the welfare of Bicolanos should be considered.
“The overlooking consequences of this bill will drop the province’s stakeholders in the gutter for it will certainly charge its consumers at a relatively higher electric rate,” Guya said.
Both De Jesus and Guya warned that Camarines Sur folks will surely face higher electricity rates if a private firm is allowed to operate in the province.
“The cost will surely increase in number and intensity due to the regeneration of expenses spent on building new distributions lines which will be taken against and form the consumers,” Guya said.