Ron Cruz, anchor of ANC, a subsidiary of ABS-CBN, is seen during an afternoon newscast at its studio at the station headquarters in Manila on May 6, 2020. The shutting down of the Philippines' top broadcaster ABS-CBN crosses a dangerous line in eroding the nation's democracy and sends a warning to those who risk angering President Rodrigo Duterte, watchdogs said.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
No halt order yet: NTC, House, Senate ordered to answer ABS-CBN plea to return on air
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 19, 2020 - 12:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite a reiterative urgent plea from ABS-CBN, the Supreme Court on Tuesday did not issue a halt order on the cease and desist order against the network.

The tribunal in an en banc session, instead, ordered the National Telecommunications Commission to answer the media giant’s petition seeking a temporary restraining order against the Cease and Desist Order it issued against ABS-CBN.

The SC also impleaded the Senate and the House of Representatives and asked the two legislative bodies to also file their comment. 

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said that the NTC and the two bodies of the Congress were given 10 days to file its comment.

"The respondent NTC was also required to file a reply within a non-extendible period of [five] calendar days from personal notice of the said comments of the Senate and House of Representatives," Hosaka also said.

The SC also junked the petition of lawyer Larry Gadon, who said ABS-CBN was not deprived of due process, to consolidate his comment/opposition with the plea.

Two weeks shutdown

By Tuesday evening, ABS-CBN has shut its free TV channel 2 and several radio stations — in the middle of a pandemic and when a typhoon hit parts of the country — for two weeks.

The network on Monday filed a Reiterative Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, citing its multi-million peso losses for each day it is off air.

“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.

It also told the court that their closure does not only affect its 11,000 employees and their families, but also extends to “talents, content creators, security guards, canteen helpers, drivers, utility personnel and all those employed in the industries associated with its operation.”

It remains unseen when can ABS-CBN return to air.

House on Tuesday recalled its approval on second reading of a proposed measure to grant the network with a franchise until Oct. 31, 2020.

READ: House plenary recalls ABS-CBN franchise OK

The Senate Committee on Public Services meanwhile tackled four proposed measures connected to ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise.

But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, vice chair of the panel, said the committee would not file a report on it as the House—where franchise bills emanate from— has yet to transmit the bill to them. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 1, 2020 - 10:58am

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

June 1, 2020 - 10:58am

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) tells his fellow lawmakers that the accusations against ABS-CBN, including alleged foreign ownership, have no basis in law.

Rodriguez points out that ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III was born to Filipino parents under the 1935 Constitution. In effect, he was born a Filipino citizen.

The lawmaker also stresses that there is no violation on ABS-CBN's issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts, which have approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

June 1, 2020 - 10:53am

Rep. Vilma Santos Recto (Batangas), sponsoring her bill granting ABS-CBN a franchise, says the network has helped the economy in creating economies by creating jobs for 11,000 people.

Santos Recto shares her concern to affected ABS-CBN employees as the House committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability resume their joint hearing on the network's franchise renewal.

"Marami pong umaasa sa mga talents ng ABS-CBN, kasama na rin po ang kani-kanilang mga pamilya. Let us give due consideration to the talents of ABS-CBN. They are also part of the workforce of the country," she says.

May 26, 2020 - 6:27pm

A labor group says it continues to support the re-opening of the ABS-CBN Corp. through the enactment of pending bills at the Lower House for its renewed fresh 25-year franchise.

"While we recognize the justness of the previous labor cases being involved by the ABS-CBN management to their contractual workers in the past, we believe that there were proper and legitimate forum and venue where labor disputes were being settled including the Department of Labor and Employment through its National Labor Relations Commission, National Conciliation and Mediation Boards among other local courts," says Defend Jobs Philippines.

May 26, 2020 - 10:45am

Solicitor General Jose Calida declines the invitation to attend the House of Representatives hearing on the pending bills concerning the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of the House committee on legislative franchises, Calida notes that his office had filed a quo warranto petition questioning the validity of ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court.

"The sub judice rule prohibits the undersigned, as the statutory counsel of both the Republic and the NTC, from sharing views and recommendations to relative merits of G.R. No. 251358 and G.R. No. 252119, respectively," Calida says.

May 19, 2020 - 5:06pm

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says they have decided to forego with the provisional franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN until Oct. 31, 2020. 

“I together with the House of Representatives leadership have decided to forego with the provisional franchise and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS-CBN franchise,” says Cayetano.

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