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Palace: NTC has sole authority to decide whether ABS-CBN stays on air on expired franchise


The continued operation of broadcasting company ABS-CBN will solely depend on the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

Roque made the comment amid the statement of Solicitor General Jose Calida threatening NTC over the weekend that its officials will face graft charges if it will allow ABS-CBN to operate on an expired franchise.

ABS-CBN’s franchise expires today, May 4.

“Ang Solicitor General ay alter ego ng ating Presidente, at sumulat nga siya sa NTC. This must be dealt with by the NTC as a quasi-judicial body,” Roque said.

“Aantayin po natin ang sagot ng NTC. Ang desisyon po ng NTC ang ipapatupad ng Presidente. Hindi puwedeng impluwensiyahan ng Presidente ang NTC,” Roque added.

House Speaker Alan Cayetano earlier said there is no intention to close down ABS-CBN amid the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 and pending Congress’ decision.

“Walang intention na ipasara sila, o gamitin ang sitwasyon na ito para roon. That is why we have instructed the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) na dapat continued ang broadcast ng ABS-CBN,” he said.

At least 11 bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal for another 25 years have been filed before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises since August 2019, but the panel only conducted its first hearing on the matter last March 10 and no significant progress has happened since then.

Just six days after, Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 pandemic. The quarantine banned mass transport and prohibited mass gathering, resulting in work stoppages in many industries, including Congress.

Ahead of the lockdown, the Department of Justice already issued a legal opinion that the NTC should allow ABS-CBN to be on air as long as both the House of Representatives and the Senate are in favor of it.

The House has sent a letter to NTC asking it to allow ABS-CBN to operate pending Congress action on the franchise bills. The Senate, on the other hand, adopted a resolution also asking the NTC to grant ABS-CBN the provisional authority to operate.

In March, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told the House Legislative Franchises panel that it will heed the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and both houses of Congress to allow ABS-CBN to continue broadcasting.

In February, Calida already filed a quo warranto petition seeking to void the existing ABS-CBN franchise before the Supreme Court due to alleged violation on foreign ownership ban and bypassing government regulations.

ABS-CBN has maintained that it did not violate any law.—AOL, GMA News

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