Malacañang on Tuesday distanced itself anew from the ABS-CBN franchise issue after Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a bill that sought to renew the media giant’s broadcasting franchise.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto earlier said that the proposal would only be passed if it was backed by Malacañang.

In a media briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said he thought otherwise.

“That is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives,” he said.

Sotto on Jan. 4 filed Senate Bill No. 1967, which sought to grant ABS-CBN a 25-year license to operate its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide.

“ABS-CBN’s wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely call for the immediate renewal of the network’s franchise,” Sotto said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“News, current events and programs can be shown and aired in real time that makes the viewers feel more updated and in the know – regardless of their location – and actions can be made quickly when important news is broadcasted,” he added.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises on July 10 voted to deny media giant ABS-CBN Corp.’s bid for a new 25-year broadcasting franchise.

ABS-CBN first sought a new franchise way back in 2014. The application was delayed amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks on the Lopez-owned network’s news coverage.

Aside from the free-to-air channels ordered shut by the National Telecommunications Commission on May 5, the company’s Sky Direct and TVPlus transmissions in Metro Manila were ordered ceased on June 30.

The network’s digital platforms have continued to operate despite the shutdowns. John Ezekiel J. Hirro