No word on hearings, but House panel orders NTC to explain order vs ABS-CBN

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
No word on hearings, but House panel orders NTC to explain order vs ABS-CBN
An employee of ABS-CBN works in the newsroom at the station headquarters in Manila on May 6, 2020. The shutting down of the Philippines' top broadcaster crosses a dangerous line in eroding the nation's democracy and sends a warning to those who risk angering President Rodrigo Duterte, watchdogs said. Ted ALJIBE / AFP
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives’ Committee on Legislative Franchises ordered National Telecommunications Commission officials to explain why they should not be cited in contempt when they issued the cease and desist order against ABS-CBN network last week.

Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chairperson of the House panel, gave NTC executives 72 hours to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for issuing the CDO despite assurances that it will let the network operate until the Congress acts on franchise renewal bills.

The order, received by the NTC only on Monday, was issued to the following officials:

  • Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba
  • Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios
  • Deputy Commissioner Delilah Deles
  • Lawyer Ella Blanca Lopez, head of NTC legal branch

“The act of the NTC constitutes undue interference on and disobedience to the exercise of the power of the [House], and therefore, an affront to its dignity and an inexcusable disrespect of its authority,” Alvarez said.

RELATED: Ex-DICT chief: NTC's cease-and-desist order vs ABS-CBN 'void from the beginning'

“Your failure to comply with this order within the period prescribed will result in a finding against you for contempt of the House of Representative and subject you to other actions that are within the powers off the House of Representatives to enforce,” he added.

The show-cause order came even while the House panel has yet to schedule a hearing to tackle the media company’s franchise.

ABS-CBN's franchise lapsed on May 4, which meant that the network cannot legally broadcast through its TV and radio stations, the NTC said in its order.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who has been distancing himself from ABS-CBN ending up off the air, said last Friday that the House will do its job.

READ: Cayetano deflects ABS-CBN shutdown blame to NTC, Calida

"The Committee on Legislative Franchises will conduct hearings that are fair, impartial, thorough and comprehensive,” Cayetano said but failed to indicate, in his lengthy statement last week, when those hearings will be held.

House vs NTC, Calida

Cayetano also tried to shift the blame over ABS-CBN going off the air to the NTC and Solicitor General Jose Calida, whom he said did “unconstitutional meddling,” and vowed there will be a day of reckoning for them.

Calida earlier said NTC should not be blamed as it was only following the law. “The bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise has been pending in Congress since 2016. The question we should be asking is, why hasn’t Congress acted on it? Who is at fault here?” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also said Calida did not influence the NTC in its ruling, despite the solicitor general warning the regulatory body of facing graft charges if it would allow ABS-CBN to operate on provisional authority beyond May 4.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District) has been consistent in saying that the franchise of ABS-CBN is a matter solely under the Congress, and the provision of a PA to the network would only put ABS-CBN in a position vulnerable to legal challenges.

Lagman said last week: “The only solution is for the House of Representatives and so shall the senate to pass seasonably the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN there is no other solution.”

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN ran to the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the NTC order.

Their Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition was raffled off to a member-in-charge on Monday morning, SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said.

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with