NTC on ABS-CBN franchise issue: ‘Trabaho lang’
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission had no ill motive and was merely adhering to the law when it ordered the closure of media giant ABS-CBN, an NTC an official said in a House hearing Monday.
During the joint hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises and the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba explained that they were just doing their job and that it was not their intention to inconvenience the Congress on the broadcast giant’s franchise renewal.
“Trabaho lang ang aming isinagawa alinsunod sa mandato ng aming ahensya na naaayon sa batas,” Cordoba said.
(We were just doing our job based in accordance with our agency’s mandate and the law.)
“Walang bahid o intention na makasakit ng damdamin o di kaya’y mag-abuso sa kahit kanino man. Sana po sa aming pagpapatuad ng aming trabaho ay wag mabigyan ng kung anumang kulay o interpretation na ito ay may masamang hangarin,” he added.
(We did not intend to hurt or abuse anyone. I hope that in carrying out our duties, the same would not be interpreted as being ill-motivated.)
On March 10, 2020, Cordoba told members of the House 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.
On May 5, 2020, however, the NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, directing the network to stop its broadcast operations after its franchise expired on May 4.
The assailed order came two days after Solicitor General Jose Calida issued a warning to NTC against issuing a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN sans a franchise.
“NTC’s past practices may have revolved on mere liberality, allowing broadcasting companies with expired franchises to continue the operations until respective have been fully acted upon,” Cordoba said.
“However, in this case, given the insurmountable constitutional and legal obstacles to this approach, the desired leniency cannot continue absent a law allowing the same,” he added.
Cordoba likewise reiterated their “sincere apologies” to the Congress for its failure to inform the lower chamber that they would issue a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.
“We realize that the commission would have exercised prudence under the circumstances and at the very least alerted Congress of our inability, based on legal grounds, to issue a provisional authority as well as furnish it a cease and desist order when the franchise of ABS-CBN expired,” Cordoba said.
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