In this Feb. 15, 2020 photo, thousands of ABS-CBN employees gather at the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City in support of the network's franchise renewal.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
SC asked to order recall of House letter to NTC for ABS-CBN's provisional license
Kristine Joy Patag ( - March 5, 2020 - 2:58pm

MANILA, Philippines —  A lawyer on Thursday sought to prohibit House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and the National Telecommunications Communication from issuing a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN.

Lawyer Larry Gadon filed a Petition for Prohibition before the tribunal asking it to issue a temporary restraining order against NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba from complying with the House of Representatives’ letter to the commission.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of committee on legislative franchises, wrote and asked NTC to issue provisional authority to the network to operate “from May 4, 2020 until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.”

Cayetano, Alvarez and Gamaliel are named as respondents in the petition.

He asked the SC to issue a writ of prohibition to order and direct Cayetano and Alvarez to recall their letter to the NTC “for being violative of the doctrine of separation of powers of the government and issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

Gadon argued that under the Constitution, the Congress holds the power to grant, modify, renew or repeal a legislative franchise. He said that Cayetano and Alvarez “acted in excess of their authorities and jurisdiction.”

He also said the NTC’s functions are “regulatory and supervisory.”

“The supposed authority of the NTC to extend an existing broadcast franchise or to issue a provisional permit to operate sans a valid franchise, or to issue a provisional permit to operate sans a valid franchise,” Gadon added.

Gadon is not from the Congress, the NTC or ABS-CBN. He said in his petition that the case is of public concern and “any citizen can be the real party in interest.”

He also said that applying for a Certificate of Public Convenience from NTC should come after a franchise from the Congress is secured.

DOJ guidance

On Wednesday, the Senate approved a resolution where the legislative body “expressed its sense” that ABS-CBN should operate beyond the expiry of its franchise on May 4, pending Congress decision on its renewal bills.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra introduced the idea of issuing a concurrent resolution from the Congress during the Senate inquiry into ABS-CBN franchise renewal and the network’s supposed violations.

Guevarra said that Congress may authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN to operate pending the Congress eventual disposition of their renewal of application.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, meanwhile, challenged ABS-CBN’s current franchise and asked the SC to revoke it, claiming that the network and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, violated its franchise laws.

At the House of Representatives, where 11 bills on the network's franchise are pending, Cayetano said the House committee on legislative franchises will hold a hearing on March 10.

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