DOJ: Cease and desist order vs ABS-CBN 'immediately executory' but can be reviewed

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ: Cease and desist order vs ABS-CBN 'immediately executory' but can be reviewed
Employees of local broadcast giant ABS-CBN hold lighted candles and placards during a protest in front of the company's building in Manila on February 14, 2020. Philippine 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 / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission against broadcast company ABS-CBN issued Tuesday is immediately executory but can be subjected to judicial review, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

The Commission on Tuesday issued a cease and desist order against the broadcast giant, a day after ABS-CBN Corp.’s legislative franchise expired.

READ: ABS-CBN ordered to go off-air as franchise lapses

The NTC gave ABS-CBN ten days from receipt of order to explain why its frequencies “should not be recalled for lack of the necessary Congressional Franchise.”

Guevarra said the order “is immediately executory” but can be elevated for judicial review to either the regional trial court or the Court of Appeals.

The justice chief said that while he cannot answer whether ABS-CBN will halt its broadcasting upon receipt of the order, “a CDO is supposed to be effective immediately.”

"The NTC will have to enforce it if ABS-CBN will not voluntarily comply," he added.

Calida threat

By issuing the order, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba walked back from an earlier statement that they would heed the Department of Justice’s advice that broadcast companies may continue to operate past franchise expiry, on a provisional license, pending congressional action on renewal bills.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises in February urged the NTC to grant provisional authority to the network until it “has made a decision on its application.”

The Senate also passed a resolution calling on the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday warned the NTC that officials may face graft charges if ABS-CBN is allowed to operate past May 4.

Calida has also sought to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise before the Supreme Court, citing supposed franchise violations, which the network has denied.

Guevarra noted that the DOJ’s advice to the NTC was in “accordance with law and equity,” and was echoed by the House panel in its letter to the commission.

“The NTC issued a cease-and-desist order instead. It must have a very good reason for doing so. Let’s wait for its explanation,” he added.

The NTC order comes as the Philippines and the rest of the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected millions and killed thousands globally.

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