Palace belies Calida ‘influenced’ NTC order on ABS-CBN shutdown
MANILA, Philippines — Malacanang on Wednesday came to the defense of Solicitor General Jose Calida, saying the chief state lawyer did not “influence” National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) issuance of a cease and desist order against media giant ABS-CBN.
“Alam niyo po, tapatan. Hindi po nag-influence si Calida,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over state-run PTV.
While acknowledging that Calida wrote the NTC warning it of ramifications should it grant provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN while the approval of its franchise is pending in Congress, Roque does not believe it was anything beyond the OSG’s mandate.
“Sumulat po siya, that’s in due course of his job. It is perfectly within his right to write,” he said in defending Calida.
NTC on Tuesday ordered the network to stop its broadcast operations after its legislative franchise lapsed on May 4.
Prior to this, Calida had warned the NTC that its commissioners could risk subjecting themselves to prosecution under the country’s anti-graft and corruption laws should they issue the “unlawful” PAs to ABS-CBN in the absence of a franchise.
During an earlier House legislative franchise committee hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said the NTC will issue ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate.
“Pero kung titignan niyo po yung NTC talaga, the law says, it is independent while it is exercising quasi-judicial function at tapatan, yung chairman po ng NTC, ilang presidente na po ang pinagsilbihan niyan. Wala pong pwedeng magsabi na nadidiktahan itong si Chairman Cordoba,” Roque said.
ABS-CBN went off the air Tuesday night to comply with NTC’s order. The network was given 10 days from receipt of the NTC order to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to the network should not be recalled.
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