President Rodrigo Duterte has no authority to reverse the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for ABS-CBN to cease operations after the media giant’s legislative franchise expired on Monday, Malacañang said Wednesday.
In an interview on ANC, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the decisions of a quasi-judicial body like the NTC can only be challenged before the courts. ABS-CBN went off the air on Tuesday night in compliance with the order.
“He cannot [reverse it]. We had thorough research on this,” he said.
“If the President could even exercise appellate jurisdiction to the decisions of the NTC, then perhaps the President could intervene. The reality is no. We do not have appellate jurisdiction.”
Roque said Duterte may be held liable for graft and violation of the code of conduct for government employees if the latter would intervene in the decisions of the NTC.
Roque was responding to the statement of Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero that Duterte can reverse the decision of the NTC because the agency is under the Executive department.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also said Duterte may generally modify or revoke any order by executive agencies, but claimed such a discussion in connection with ABS-CBN's shutdown is "useless" because of the President's supposed hands-off stance on the issue.
Roque, meanwhile, admitted that the decision surprised him and two other Palace officials.
“Quite frankly, we did not expect that the NTC would issue the cease and desist order yesterday,” he said.
ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application remains pending in Congress, but Roque said the President will not likely issue a certification urging lawmakers to expedite its passage.
“I have not seen any franchise bill to have been certified as urgent by the President. In that sense, no certification is forthcoming because it is, for all intents and purposes, a private bill that grants a privilege to a private company. I don’t think it is proper to have it certified as urgent,” he said.
Roque reiterated that the President asked his allies in Congress to “vote as you please.” --KBK, GMA News