Lagman: Gadon petition confirms provisional authority for ABS-CBN, network open for legal challenges
Supporters and employees of ABS-CBN, the country's largest broadcast network, hold placards as they join a protest in front of the ABS-CBN building in Manila on February 21, 2020. Philippines' government lawyers moved on February 10 to strip the nation's biggest media group of its operating franchise in what campaigners branded a fresh attack on press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte.
AFP/Basilio Sepe

Lagman: Gadon petition confirms provisional authority for ABS-CBN, network open for legal challenges

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - March 6, 2020 - 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) said that the recent petition questioning the House of Representatives’ directive to the National Telecommunications Commission on ABS-CBN’s provisional franchise confirms that the move just puts ABS-CBN in a position vulnerable for legal challenges.

Lagman told ANC’s Early Edition that lawyer Larry Gadon’s Petition for Prohibition filed Thursday just confirms “our apprehension that all of these alternative reliefs short of a renewal are really throwing ABS-CBN into a quagmire of legal problems.”

“We have said repeatedly, the alternative reliefs being suggested short of renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN are not legal and viable,” the lawmaker also said.

Gadon filed a Petition for Prohibition before the Supreme Court, 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.”

Lagman reiterated his position that the NTC has no jurisdiction on issuing a provisional franchise to the media giant as extending a franchise is a matter solely under the Congress. Gadon also raised this argument in his petition before the SC.

He also stressed that the law states “the one applying for a provisional authority or cert of public convenience should be a franchise holder.”

“In other words, the inflexible rule is that [there will be] no operation if there is no franchise,” he added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra previously said that the Congress may direct the NTC to issue a provisional authority to operate until the Congress decides on its renewal, after its current franchise expires on May 4.

Anyone can challenge the NTC authority on ABS-CBN woes

Lagman also said that he believes Gadon, who is not from ABS-CBN, Congress or NTC, may question the directive before the tribunal.

Gadon, in his petition, said the case is of public concern and “any citizen can be the real party in interest.”

“The SC in so many cases has been lenient with respect to personality of the party bringing the case. I think he has the personality as a taxpayer,” he said.

Lagman added: “I would like to underscore and reiterate, anyone can challenge the authority of NTC to grant a provisional franchise to an applicant, which does not have a valid and subsisting franchise.”

The House panel on legislative will hold a hearing on the bills calling for the network’s franchise renewal on March 10.

The Senate, for its part, approved a resolution expressing “its sense” that the media network should be allowed to operate beyond the expiry of its current franchise, pending Congress action on bills calling for its franchise renewal.

ABS-CBN ABS-CBN FRANCHISE EDCEL LAGMAN
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