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House panel chair surprised NTC backtracked on promise, wants explanation on CDO vs. ABS-CBN

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises will call the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in a hearing to explain why it ordered broadcast giant ABS-CBN to cease its operations, its chairman Palawan Representative Franz Alvarez said Tuesday

This, even as the NTC earlier told the panel under oath that it would issue a provisional authority to allow the network to operate after its franchise expired on May 4.

In a radio interview, Alvarez admitted that he was surprised that the NTC backtracked and issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN when the commission announced in a March 10 hearing of the panel that it would issue a provisional authority.

"Laking gulat natin na nag-issue sila ngayon ng cease and desist sa ABS-CBN kasi nga hindi ito ang ating napag-usapan. At malinaw, merong resolution ang Senate at meron ding sulat ang Lower House na sinasabi dapat ipagpatuloy," he said.

"Nagulat tayo ngayon na nag-backtrack sila, so kailangan nila ipaliwanag yan sa atin. Sa hearing natin, ating iimbitahan ang NTC para mapaliwanag nila kung bakit," he added.

The NTC has issued an order for ABS-CBN to stop operating its various TV and radio stations nationwide following the expiration of its legislative franchise.

Alvarez said the issuance of the order was such a bad timing, considering the country is in the midst of a pandemic.

He said that he had already spoken with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on their next steps as the NTC's order is a clear encroachment on the sole jurisdiction of the House to grant or reject legislative franchises.

Alvarez maintained that there is no reason for ABS-CBN to cease its operations.

"Ako tingin ko, pwede pa mag-operate [ang ABS-CBN] hanggang sila [NTC] mimso ang magpa-implement niyan. Siyempre, hindi naman mapapaimplement ng NTC agad yan, idadaan sa korte yan. So may proseso pa naman din," he said.

"Ang committee ay naninindigan doon sa ating sinabi na walang reason para isara kayo or mag-off the air habang pending pa rin ang inyong application," he added. -MDM, GMA News