Employees and supporters of ABS-CBN light candles at the gate of its compound in Quezon City on May 5, the day the network shut its operations.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Citing looming job losses and public's information needs, ABS-CBN reiterates plea to stop NTC order
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 18, 2020 - 5:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Citing the needs of its 11,000 employees and of the general public, ABS-CBN Corp. urged the Supreme Court to immediately restrain a National Telecommunications Commission order for it to stop broadcast operations.

The network giant on Monday filed an urgent motion asking the tribunal to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC's Cease and Desist Order issued May 5.

The network said that while a bill seeking the grant of a provisional franchise to the broadcasting company has been filed, it will still take time before the proposed measure becomes a law.

ABS-CBN would also have to seek necessary permits from the NTC to operate. “This may take some weeks, if not months,” it said.

Last week, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano sponsored House Bill 6732 or the proposed legislation to grant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. a franchise until October 31, 2020, “unless sooner revoked or cancelled.”

The bill was approved on second reading the same day, but some lawmakers have moved to reconsider its passage saying it was unconstitutional. Under the 1987 Constitution, "no bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its members three days before its passage, except when the president certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency."

President Rodrigo Duterte, who last year warned ABS-CBN Corp. that they "will be out" when its franchise lapses, has not certified the bill as urgent. 

Shutdown means multimillion-peso loss daily

The media network told the court that for each day that it is off air, the company loses about P30 to 35 million, mainly in revenues from advertising.

“If this severe financial hemorrhage is not stopped, ABS-CBN may be constrained to eventually let go of workers, reduce salaries and benefits, and substantially cut down on costs and expenses,” it said.

RELATED: ABS-CBN to honor debts, cut expenses with free TV shut

The largest broadcast company stopped operation of its more than 40 channels, including free channel 2, and radio stations—in the middle of a pandemic and as a typhoon ravaged parts of the country—in compliance with the NTC order.

ABS-CBN noted that it operates one of the very few available television and radio stations to some areas such as in Nueva Vizcaya and Mountain Province, and polls have said it reached 88% of households in the Philippines.

“With ABS-CBN’s unparalleled reach, it is imperative that ABS-CBN be on air to give timely and reliable information to the public, especially in light of the current public health emergency and the natural calamities that regularly threaten the country, such as typhoons, earthquakes and floods,” ABS-CBN said.

It also stressed that the closure of the network also endangers the livelihood not only of their employees, “but also of its talents, content creators, security guards, canteen helpers, drivers, utility personnel and all those employed in the industries associated with its operation.”

“ABS-CBN also prays for the immediate issuance of a TRO to arrest the grave injustice and irreparable injury that ABS-CBN, its 11,000 employees, various stakeholders and the general public have begun to suffer,” the petition further read.

Gadon blocks ABS-CBN’s plea for halt order

Meanwhile, lawyer Larry Gadon sought to block ABS-CBN's petition for a halt order on the NTC order.

Gadon previously sought to block a letter from the House panel on franchises to the NTC authorizing it to issue a provisional authority to the network.

The lawyer, in a Comment/Opposition filed also Monday, refuted that the network was deprived of is right to due process when the CDO was issued. He also said that the network cannot directly go to the SC to appeal the NTC’s order.

“ABS-CBN’s failure to file a motion for reconsideration is tantamount to non-exhaustion of administrative penalties,” he said.

ABS-CBN CORP. ABS-CBN FRANCHISE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SUPREME COURT
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