HOUSE Minority Leader Benny Abante decried the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC’s move that ended ABS-CBN Corporation’s operation on all of its free tv and on both FM and AM radio operations.
In fact, Abante calls for the abolition of NTC and transfer its powers to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Abante said the NTC’s move is a slap in the face of Congress and an outright act of defiance.
“The House Committee on Legislative Franchises in February 2020 urged the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN until it has made a decision on its application. No less than House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, already sent a letter to NTC urging it to issue a provisional authority effective May 4, 2020. The Senate also passed a resolution calling on the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN,” said Abante.
Abante stressed that NTC’s recent statement supporting ABS- CBN’s bid for a provisional authority was only a charade leaving out false hopes to the company.
“Contrary to its previous pronouncements, the NTC issued a Cease and Desist Order directing ABS-CBN to cease operations immediately,” he said.
For his part, veteran lawmaker Edcel Lagman said that Speaker Cayetano and Commissioner Gamaliel Cordova of NTC were playing charades because after Cordova undertook to grant the provisional authority, the NTC nonetheless issued the cease and desist order for ABS-CBN to stop operations.
He also said that the closure of the network giant, which could have been averted by the timely congressional renewal of its franchise, is a flagrant derogation of the freedom of the press.
Meanwhile, Anak Kalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor said that congress was ambushed about the sudden closure believing that Malacañang was also caught by surprise.
While others were in condemnation, some lawmakers were urging NTC to do leave Congress their job in granting a franchise to private entities.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said it is the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress to determine whether a broadcast network should be granted the privilege to operate and whether that privilege should remain.
“My appeal to the regulatory agencies is not to preempt Congress from performing its mandate,” said Salceda.
For her part, ACT-CIS Representative Nina Taduran pleads to the NTC to grant provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN Corporation while the House of Representatives is still deciding on whether to renew or revoke its franchise.
Taduran believes that it is a disservice to the Filipinos to shut down a major media network which is one of the sources of information and entertainment at this time of the Covid-19 crisis.
“If indeed Abs-Cbn has violated its franchise benefits, let the House Committee on Legislative Franchises and the court decide on this. In the meantime, since the media network is not only dishing out information and entertainment but doing its own drive to help the victims of Covid-19, allow them to operate in this peculiar time,” said Taduran.
Right now, there’s no word yet from House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano neither from House Committee on Legislative Franchises Chair Franz Alvarez over the ABS- CBN franchise issue.