Panel chair and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said they would continue with the proceedings on 11 bills seeking renewal of the network’s 25-year franchise even if the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida remains pending before the high court.
Boy Santos/ File
House hearing on ABS-CBN won’t giveway to SC
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on legislative franchises yesterday rejected calls to suspend its hearings on the franchise renewal application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN to give way to the resolution of the quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court (SC).

Panel chair and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said they would continue with the proceedings on 11 bills seeking renewal of the network’s 25-year franchise even if the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida remains pending before the high court.

“That will have no effect on our hearings because that is a separate proceeding with a separate branch of government,” he explained to reporters.

Alvarez said the latest petition for prohibition filed by lawyer Larry Gadon seeking to stop the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from issuing a provisional authority for the network to continue operating after the expiration of franchise on May 4 would also have no effect on their hearings. 

“The prohibition petition does not seek to stop the House hearings because we are all aware of the separation of powers of the co-equal branches of government,” he pointed out. 

Gadon yesterday asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the NTC from issuing a provisional authority to media giant ABS-CBN. 

He also asked the court to issue a writ of prohibition that would order and direct Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Alvarez to recall their Feb. 26 letter to NTC head Gamaliel Cordoba to issue a provisional authority that would have reportedly allowed ABS-CBN to operate from May 4 until the House of Representatives has made a decision on its application, arguing that this violates the doctrine of separation of powers as the NTC is an agency under the executive branch. 

“The NTC cannot usurp the power of Congress to grant or extend ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise. It is only Congress which can extend ABS-CBN’s franchise. This power cannot be passed on or delegated to an administrative agency, such as NTC, under the executive branch,” Gadon said.

He asked the SC to order Cayetano and Alvarez to cease and desist from insisting on NTC to abide by its order and to order Cordoba not to follow the orders in the letter because such acts are without or in excess of NTC’s jurisdiction. 

Alvarez believed that the two cases before the SC could be raised during their hearings on the franchise. He also expects that the matter will be brought up during the first panel hearing on March 10 when NTC executives appear for clarification on the House’s order for issuance of the PA.

Alvarez added that the proposal to issue a joint resolution with the Senate to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN until a new one is approved is no longer an option for the panel.

“That’s not an option anymore. That’s not even calendared,” he bared, referring to the joint resolutions filed by Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Cayetano earlier rejected the proposition of the two lawmakers and instead opted to push for issuance of provisional authority by the NTC “to prevent more problems.”

Cayetano had repeatedly said the application of ABS-CBN for renewal of franchise would have to wait, saying it is not urgent. – With Evelyn Macairan

ABS-CBN LARRY GADON
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