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ABS-CBN shutdown: Senate adopts reso urging NTC to reconsider order

/ 03:36 PM May 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution urging the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to reconsider its shutdown order against ABS-CBN, whose franchise lapsed on May 4.

The chamber approved Senate Resolution No. 395, which was signed and filed by 13 senators on May 7.

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“There is a specific message I want to express today. We are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. Libo-libo ang nasasawi dahil sa isang virus na kahit ang health experts ay hindi pa lubusang nauunawaan. Milyon-milyon ang naggugutom. Milyon-milyon ang nawawalan ng trabaho at wala pang kasiguraduhan kung ano ang mangyayari sa mga susunod na araw o linggo,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the resolution, said in her sponsorship speech.

(There is a specific message I want to express today. We are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. There are thousands who are dying because of the virus that even health experts cannot completely comprehend what is happening. Millions are going hungry. Millions of workers are also being displaced and there is no assurance of what may happen the next day or week).

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“Kaalaman ang pinakamahalaga nating sandata upang labanan ito (Knowledge is our most effective weapon to fight this). Access to accurate and up-to-date information is absolutely crucial in ensuring that the public is a partner in health-enhancing community measures,” she added.

Early last week, ABS-CBN was forced to go off the air after the NTC issued a cease-and-desist order directing the network to stop its television and radio broadcasting station nationwide despite the commission’s earlier assurance that it would grant a provisional authority to the network pending its franchise renewal.

Hontiveros, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Leila de Lima, Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, and Joel Villanueva signed the resolution.

Senator Richard Gordon also voted in favor of the resolution despite not being a signatory.

Meanwhile, nine senators abstained from voting on the resolution pointing out that the issue on the ABS-CBN franchise has already been brought to the Supreme Court and that the network’s franchise renewal is now at the hands of the House of Representatives.

Last Thursday, ABS-CBN filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to temporarily stop the implementation of the cease-and-desist order the NTC issued against the network.

But Pangilinan, one of the co-authors, said that there had been times that the Senate took a position on a matter even if a case has already been lodged before the high court.

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“I just wanted to manifest that we support the resolution. There were instances in the past despite the fact that a case had been filed before the Supreme Court on matters of national concern, national interest, or public interest that the Senate of the Philippines took on a position and approved a resolution,” he said.

Hontiveros also clarified that there was no intent to preempt the lower house and that the resolution was only directed to the NTC.

Among the senators who abstained were Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Panfilo Lacson, Imee Marcos, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Francis Tolentino and Cynthia Villar.

Senator Pia Cayetano, who earlier signed the resolution, withdrew her signature and abstained, adding that she would refrain from “expressing her views” since a case has already been filed before the court.

Cayetano, along with the eight other senators, also cited a resolution earlier adopted by the chamber in March which urged the NTC to grant a provisional authority to ABS-CBN pending its franchise renewal.

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, said it would be a “double-whammy” for the Senate should the NTC “snub” a resolution from the chamber for a second time.

“I am inclined to vote in abstention for the simple reason na parang magiging double whammy na ‘yan sa Senate kung for the second time, ii-snubin tayo ng NTC,” he said.

(I am inclined to vote in abstention for the simple reason that this may turn out to be a double-whammy for the Senate should the NTC snub us again).

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TAGS: ABS-CBN franchise, Nation, National Telecommunications Commission, news, NTC, Senate
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