Senators urge NTC to reconsider Cease and Desist Order vs ABS-CBN
The Senate has adopted Senate Resolution 395 which urges the National Telecommunications Commission to reconsider its cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN.
According to the resolution, it expresses the sense of the senate “to urge the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reconsider its cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation and to allow the continuous operation of ABS CBN Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliates ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. Sky Cable Corporation, and AMCARA Broadcasting Network, Inc., pending the disposition of its franchise renewal.”
PSR 395 also states the following:
• that the Philippine Senate, on March 4, 2020, adopted Resolution No. 344, expressing the sense of the Senate to authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority in favor of ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries and affiliates.
• that the House of Representatives, from which franchise bills (private bills) should emanate pursuant to Article VI, Section 24 of the 1987 Constitution, has yet to conclude deliberations on the franchise bill of ABS-CBN and transmit the same to Senate.
• that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has already expressed its legal opinion, to the effect that ABS-CBN can continue its operations on the basis of equity.
• that there is precedent for entities whose franchises have expired to be allowed to continue to operate, pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Broadcast franchise expired on August 4, 2017 and was only renewed on April 22, 2019 by virtue of Republic Act No. 11319. Globe Innove’s franchise expired on April 10, 2017 and was only renewed on December 14, 2018. PT8T’s franchise expired in November 2015, and was only renewed on July 21, 2016.
• that another another demonstration of NTC’s liberality is its Memorandum Order 03-03-2020 which states that “(a)ll existing permits certificates and licenses, including radio operator certificates, to operate radio communications equipment, networks and facilities, government or private, in various radio services xxx issued by the National Telecommunications Commission, expiring within March 15, 2020 to April 14, 2020 or during the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period shall continue to be valid sixty (60) days after the end of the government-imposed quarantine period”. This suggests that there is enough basis in policy and in practice to allow ABS-CBN corporation and its subsidiaries and/or affiliates to continue their operations pending the renewal of their respective franchises.
• that now, more than ever, in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our generation, the Filipino people deserve access to up-to-date news provided by a free and unfettered media, and multiple sources of information provide the best pathways for truth to emerge.
• that the cease and desist order against ABS-CBN will impact on 13,000 of its workers, creating joblessness that could not be more ill-timed given the looming economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
PSR 395 was introduced by Senators Risa Hontiveros, Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Franklin M. Drilon, Ralph G. Recto, Sonny Angara, Ma. Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Pia S. Cayetanb, Win Gatchalian, Leila M. De Lima, Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan, and Joel Villanueva.
12 senators voted in favor of the resolution, while 9 senators abstained, including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Pia Cayetano, Francis Tolentino, Cynthia Villar, Imee Marcos, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
The senators who abstained explained that the issue has already been filed before the Supreme Court and that the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN should emanate from the House of Representatives.
The NTC issued the CDO on May 4, 2020, ordering the television network to immediately cease operation. ABS-CBN stopped its operation on the night of May 4.