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Palace: ABS-CBN franchise issue all up to NTC

/ 12:56 PM May 04, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The fate of media giant ABS-CBN as its franchise expires today, May 4, is up to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Malacanang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte will heed to whatever NTC decides after Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday warned the NTC against granting provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

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Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, the franchise committee chairman, earlier sent a letter to the NTC enjoining the commission to grant a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN effective on May 4, 2020, “until such time that the House of Representatives/Congress has made a decision on its application.”

On March 10, 2020, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told members of the House of Representatives that they will follow the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ), allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.

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“Ang Solgen (Solicitor General) po ay isang alter ego ng ating president at sumulat na nga siya sa NTC. Itong bagay na ito is a matter that must be dealt with by the NTC as a quasi-judicial at aantayin natin ang sagot ng NTC,” Roque said during a press briefing.

(The Solicitor General is the alter ego of our president and he has written to the NTC. This matter must be dealt with by the NTC as a quasi-judicial body and we will wait for the response of the NTC.)

“Ang presidente naman ipapatupad kung anong magiging desisyon ng NTC,” Roque added.

(The President will implement whatever will be the decision of the NTC.)

Further, Roque said: “Hahayaan po namin ang NTC na mag-desisyon at kung anuman ang desisyon ng NTC, ipapatupad ‘yan ng buong gobyerno. Ang desisyon ay nasa NTC.”

(We will allow the NTC to decide and whatever the decision of theNTC is, the government will follow. The decision is now with NTC.)

According to Calida, NTC could not grant provisional authorities to ABS-CBN Corporation and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. because it must first secure a franchise from Congress.

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Calida said the NTC commissioners could risk subjecting themselves to prosecution under the country’s anti-graft and corruption laws should they issue the “unlawful” provisional authorities to ABS-CBN while not having a franchise.

Cayetano, however, has previously reiterated Congress’ power to make such orders to the NTC.

“Ang tingin ng Kongreso (The Congress believes that), if we have the authority to give a broadcast company 25 years to operate, why can’t we give them a few months to operate while we’re in the middle of the hearings?” Cayetano said in a recent interview with CNN Philippines.

“Ang basis namin yung Constitution (Our basis is the Constitution). The constitutional right for us to grant franchises,” he added.

GSG

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