Possible contempt hounds NTC as Senate vows swift action on ABS-CBN franchise | Inquirer News

Possible contempt hounds NTC as Senate vows swift action on ABS-CBN franchise

/ 02:39 PM May 08, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — While one senator says Senate will “not waste a moment” in acting on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, another is looking at the possibility of citing the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in contempt for backtracking on its earlier pronouncements.

Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, said that the Senate will “not waste a moment” in tackling ABS-CBN’s bid to have its franchise renewed once it reaches the upper chamber.

“The Filipino people want to see the network back on air. To see is to believe,” Poe said in a statement.


“As Senate President [Vicente] Sotto vowed, the Senate will not waste a moment once the bill reaches the chamber, as this matter is imbued with public interest,” the senator added.


Poe made the remark after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that Congress “has no choice but to once again rise to the occasion and fix the mess others make.”

Sotto earlier said the Senate will approve ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal.

“ABS Franchise, bring it to the Senate, we will approve it!” Sotto said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that the NTC’s move to backtrack on its earlier pronouncement to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate could serve as a ground to have it cited for contempt.

“That’s why we are quite surprised and it can be a justification for contempt because at that point in time, he gave us a statement that we held and we used to guide us in our decision-making,” Gatchalian said in an interview.

Gatchalian recalled that NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba made a verbal commitment after getting the legal opinion of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.


“Hindi ko makalimutan because that was the point of contention at that time. He (Cordoba) was relieved ang sabi niya, oh andito na pala ang DOJ, meron nang justification, therefore, we can issue a provisional authority,” Gatchalian said.

“That statement is a very important statement because that guided us the senators and also Congress in terms of how to approach this franchise and what process will we have to take in order to approve that franchise,” he added.

In the same light, Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the House committee on legislative franchises, earlier said the NTC may be held for contempt for backtracking on its commitment to issue ABS-CBN a provisional authority.

“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?” Alvarez said in a radio interview when asked if NTC’s order for ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations could serve as a basis for contempt.

Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima slammed presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s remark that President Rodrigo Duterte is “neutral” on the issue of ABS-CBN.

“‘Neutral’ lang daw si Duterte? This bully President not lifting a finger this time? Not even counter-manding either [Solicitor General Jose] Calida or NTC, which is perfectly within his powers to do? Duterte’s hypocritical stance of neutrality is so much of an insult to our intelligence,” De Lima said.

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“Many times, we have been lied to and manipulated by, this President. And, each time, we let him get away with it. That is our national tragedy,” she added.

TAGS: ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN shutdown, Grace Poe

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