Lawyer asks SC to stop NTC from allowing ABS-CBN continue to operate in May
MANILA, Philippines — A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from issuing provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN Corporation once its franchise expires on May 4 and Congress has not acted on its renewal.
In a taxpayer’s petition for prohibition, while the petition is pending, lawyer Lorenzo G. Gadon urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the NTC from complying with the letter-directive of House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Rep. Franz E. Alvarez as chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
He said, the letter-directive of the House of Representatives violates the doctrine of separation of powers “and issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
“The NTC has neither authority nor jurisdiction to issue a permit to operate to ABS-CBN when the latter’s franchise expires on May 4, 2020,” he said.
According to Gadon, “the functions of the NTC are merely regulatory and supervisory. The supposed authority of the NTC to extend an existing broadcast franchise, or to issue a provisional permit to operate sans a valid franchise, is nowhere in the said mandate.”
He said a 2003 decision already noted that the NTC “is not clothed with any authority to issue such permits to any radio or television broadcast network without an existing and valid legislative franchise.”
“Congress, not Cayetano or Alvarez, has the exclusive jurisdiction to grant, modify, renew or repeal a legislative franchise,” he said.
Without a valid legislative franchise, Gadon said, the NTC cannot regulate the franchisee, in this case ABS-CBN.
“[The] NTC cannot usurp the power of Congress to grant or extend ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise,” he said.
“It is only Congress, which can extend ABS-CBN’s franchise. This power cannot be passed on or delegated to an administrative agency, such as NTC, under the Executive branch.”
He said, Cayetano’s letter to NTC is tantamount to extending its franchise through “an undue delegation of powers.”
The House of Representatives will tackle the ABS-CBN’s franchise on March 10, the same day that the Supreme Court will tackle the quo warranto case filed by Solicitor-General Jose Calida as well as his urgent motion for a gag order.