Without franchise, ABS had to cease and desist
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 14, 2020 - 12:00am

I have nothing against ABS-CBN. In fact, I am an avid follower of "Ang Probinsyano". I have always preferred this network over the other one. But there is a law, and we need to follow it. A network without a franchise cannot operate. It is the duty of the NTC to order them to stop because they manifested no overt act of stopping.

There is no abuse of discretion by NTC, as it was only doing its job. The Sol Gen was only reminding the NTC that there is a penal sanction for issuing a temporary license without a law having been passed by the Lower House of Congress. It is not the Senate but the House. It is not President Duterte but the Lower House. People are barking up the wrong trees. The lawyers of ABS should do their job by going to court if they believe that the NTC committed grave abuse of discretion. As a lawyer, I believe there was no such abuse. But they can try to get a TRO. We need to stress though that the correct remedy is for the House to convene and go through the process of passing that law.

For the court to annul the action of NTC, or at least, to get a restraining order or a preliminary injunction, ABS must prove grave abuse of discretion. This is defined as '' an arbitrary, capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment that is so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty, or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law", I can cite hundreds, even thousands of jurisprudence to back up that definition,. And so, let their lawyers do just that. We cannot resolve this dispute before the bar of public opinion. It is only the court that can provide an immediate and temporary remedy. But then again, the long-term remedy should come from Congress alone. ABS has Sol Aragones, former ABS journalist, now member of Congress. Why don't they move, instead of crying over spilt milk.

For the simple-minded folks, like us, the matter is very plain and not complicated. If you do not have a driver's license, you cannot drive. If you did not renew your car registration, you will be stopped by the police. If your store does not have a permit, the mayor will order its closure. ABS has no more franchise, and so, what would be the legal basis for NTC to issue an authority to it even to operate temporarily?  Is it difficult for ABS to understand a simple matter of legal compliance? Even if all the senators and congressmen would shout to high heavens what they want to say, the fact remains that ABS has no franchise.

Contrary to the high-sounding words of former VP Noli de Castro, this is not an attack against democracy. Democracy is alive even without ABS and without de Castro. This is not about press freedom. Freedom will not die if the ABS stops. It is not necessary, much less indispensable to the security of the state or the survival of the nation. There is still Channel 7, 5, 9 and many others. This is not Martial Law. This is an exercise of the rule of law. ABS is not above the law. If it has no legal authority to operate, then it should cease and desist. Its only remedy is to get a franchise law from Congress. No less and no more.

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