By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang has left it to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) the decision on broadcast media giant ABS-CBN’s continued operations after its legislative franchise ended on Monday, May 4.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the NTC that it may face prosecution under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if it decides to issue the provisional authority to ABS-CBN and Convergence.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, said in February this year that ABS-CBN may continue with its operations pending the renewal of its franchise, saying Congress may allow the NTC to issue broadcast companies provisional authority.
In his Monday Palace press briefing, Roque said the Palace was leaving the fate of ABS-CBN to the NTC.
“[This] is a matter that should be dealt with by the NTC as a quasi-judicial body. At aantayin po natin ang sagot ng (And we will wait for the decision of the) National Telecommunications Commission,” he said.
“Ang Presidente naman po ipatutupad po kung ano magiging desisyon ng (President Duterte, on the other hand, will implement whatever the decision of the) National Telecommunications Commission,” he added.
In February, President Duterte said he accepted the apology of ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak for the network’s shortcomings and for unintentionally offending the President.
Roque said on Monday that President Duterte’s sentiments should not influence the NTC.
“Hindi naman pupwedeng maimpluwensyahan ng ating Presidente ang NTC dahil sa batas, desisyon po ng Komisyon ‘yan at hindi naman po pwedeng pangunahan ng Presidente ang NTC pagdating sa issue na ito (The President cannot influence the NTC because the law says that it is up to them. The President cannot also preempt the NTC regarding this issue),” he said.
“We will apply the exhaustion of administrative remedies. The matter po ay dedesisyunan ng (will be decided by an) administrative agency which has specialized competence para magdesisyon sa mga bagay na ito (to decide on things like this) which is the National Telecommunications,” he added.
President Duterte has threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal for its supposed bias against him, especially during the presidential elections. He also accused the network of not returning his payment for his unaired campaign ads.
In February, Calida filed a quo warrant petition against ABS-CBN, invalidating the network’s franchise for supposed violations. President Duterte, however, denied his involvement and said Calida was acting on his own.
He likewise denied that he was pressuring Congress to act unfavorably on ABS-CBN’s appeal to have its franchise renewed
Despite this, Duterte said he was still undecided if he will sign the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN should Congress grant it.