Alvarez: NTC may be held in contempt for ‘backtracking’ on ABS-CBN franchise issue
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) may be held for contempt after it “backtracked” on its earlier pronouncement that it will issue a provisional authority to operate to media giant ABS-CBN, the chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises said Tuesday.
“Posible po. On record sila, under oath sila nung sinabi na sila ay magi-issue ng provisional authority kaya gusto nating malaman, anong nangyari at bakim sila biglang nagbacktrack?” Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez told DZMM if NTC’s move order for ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations could serve as a basis for contempt.
Just hours before the cease and desist order vs ABS-CBN, Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez said that they will summon the NTC if they "succumb to the pressure" of SolGen Jose Calida. Alvarez said they "should explain why they should not be held in contempt." @inquirerdotnet https://t.co/FXmuzaFyLU
— Neil Arwin Mercado (@NAMercadoINQ) May 5, 2020
House leaders banked on NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate as bills seeking the renewal of the media giant’s franchise remain pending before the House committee on legislative franchises.
Thus, in February, Alvarez and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano 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.”
In a hearing conducted in March, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said 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.
This, however, did not push through after the NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN on Tuesday.
This move, Alvarez said, was an “encroachment” to the lower chamber’s jurisdiction.
“Pinagaaralan pa po namin. Nag-usap kami ni Speaker, pinag-aaralan ng leaders kung ano ang magiging sunod na hakbang ng House dahil malinaw na encroachment ito sa jurisdiction ng House,” Alvarez said.
“Ang Congress laman ang may constitutional right na mag-grant ng franchise at mag-revoke. Medyo nanghimasok po sa atin,” he added.
ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on May 4 which served as NTC’s basis in issuing the cease and desist order.
NTC cited Republic Act No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law which states that “no person, firm, company, association, or corporation shall construct, install, establish, or operate a radio transmitting station, or a radio receiving station used for commercial purposes, or a radio broadcasting station, without having first obtained a franchise therefor from the Congress of the Philippines.”
Thus, with the expiration of Republic Act. No 7966, which granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate its TV and radio broadcasting stations, NTC said that ABS-CBN “no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise as required by Act No. 3846.
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