MANILA, Philippines —The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has urged the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to comply with the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) ruling on Newsnet’s application to operate interactive pay television and multimedia services in the country.
In a motion for reconsideration made public Wednesday, the NTC, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), said ARTA’s order is already moot and academic since it reversed itself in an order dated June 17, 2022.
The June 17 order states that “following the directives laid down in Secretary of Justice Resolution in OSJ Case No. 01-2020 dated July 9, 2021, which has become final and executory,” the declaration of completeness and order of automatic approval dated Feb. 12, 2020, for Newsnet are “hereby set aside.”
ARTA’s reversal was based on a resolution by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which stated that ARTA does not have the authority to issue the declaration of completeness and cannot compel NTC to issue a certificate of public convenience (CPC) which included the use of frequencies.
The DOJ’s resolution has already become final and executory as of Feb. 8, 2022.
The OSG said the DOJ’s order has since become “immutable, and may no longer be disturbed.”
The Court of Appeals, in its ruling, said the DOJ resolution was issued pursuant to the NTC’s referral of the matter under Presidential Decree 242, which prescribes the procedure for administrative settlement of disputes, claims, and controversies between or among government officers.
Although the present case involves NTC and ARTA, both government agencies under the Office of the President, the CA noted that it also involves Newsnet, a private entity.
Thus, the CA said PD 242 does not apply to the case.
OSG argued that even assuming the DOJ resolution did not affect Newsnet’s rights since it is not a party to the DOJ proceedings, “still, it is humbly submitted, however that the Honorable Court cannot close its eyes to the fact that said DOJ resolution, after it had attained finality, binds the ARTA.”
On the expiration of the legislative franchise, the Court of Appeals said that the firm is not a public telecommunication entity but a cable/community antennae television (CATV); thus, a franchise is unnecessary.
However, the OSG said, “its failure to renew the franchise renders all its secondary authorities, permits and licenses arising from it revoked. The expiration of Newsnet’s legislative franchise legally prevents the NTC from approving Newsnet’s application for a CPC and the use of frequencies.”
Newsnet’s CATV system uses the Local Multi-Point Distribution System (LMDS), a wireless service that uses the wireless frequency spectrum to relay its signal to its subscribers.
The OSG said a legislative franchise is a requirement before NTC could grant authority for Newsnet to be able to use radio frequencies under Act 3846, (Radio Control Act).