ABS-CBN seeks Supreme Court injunction on NTC cease and desist order
A guard passes logo of ABS-CBN at the network’s compound, a day it was ordered shut by National Telecommunications Commission, May 6, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varca
ABS-CBN seeks Supreme Court injunction on NTC cease and desist order
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 7, 2020 - 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 4:49 p.m.) — ABS-CBN Corp. ran to the Supreme Court on Thursday to ask it to set aside the National Telecommunications Commission's cease and desist order against the network.

The broadcast company filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition assailing the NTC's order before the SC and accusing the telecommunications regulatory body of committing grave abuse of discretion when it issued the CDO.

NTC issued an immediately executory cease and desist order against the network on Tuesday, a day after ABS-CBN's  25-year franchise expired.

The network complied with the order and shut the operations of its 42 television stations across the country, including flagship and free Channel 2 and its regional channels, 10 digital broadcast channels, and 18 FM radio and five AM radio stations.

The network asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order to enjoin NTC from implementing the CDO and for a permanent injunction against the assailed order.

The media giant also asked the tribunal to nullify the CDO.

‘NTC treated ABS-CBN’s case differently’

The media company also said the CDO violated its right to equal protection of the laws, as it pointed out that the NTC allowed other entities to operate despite franchise expiry and when enjoined by the Congress.

“There is no reason why the same practice should not be applied to ABS-CBN,” their petition read.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios told Philstar.com Wednesday that the commission was “left with no choice but to treat” ABS-CBN’s case differently.

“This is a difficult case and so many opinions were already raised on this. Our legal team studied this carefully and in the end, the decision was not to keep quiet. We have to follow the law,” he said.

ABS-CBN also raised that President Rodrigo Duterte, chief executive, has not revoked the Department of Justice’s legal guidance, which states that broadcast companies may be allowed to operate pending congressional action on bills for franchise renewal.

Citing the alter ego doctrine, ABS-CBN said “it is binding on the NTC as an executive agency that falls under the control of the president.”

Urgent motion for raffle

The network also filed an Urgent Motion for Special Raffle so that their plea may be assigned to a division while the SC operates on a skeleton workforce, set to only tackle “urgent cases,” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The continued operation of ABS-CBN Corporation is a matter of public interest and transcendental importance, it being among the largest broadcasting entities in terms of coverage and audience,” the broadcast company said in their motion.

It also said that the NTC’s order “would jeopardize” the livelihoods of more than 11,000 employees and families.

In its petition for certiorari, ABS-CBN also stressed that the public needs its services during the public health emergency.

“To close ABS-CBN now when it is most needed would certainly be detrimental to the public,” the network said.

The closure of ABS-CBN comes at a time when the Philippines and the rest of the world are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives globally.

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