NTC was only ‘doing its job’ when it acted against ABS-CBN – Sotto

Published May 6, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, though saddened by the shutdown of television network ABS-CBN, said Wednesday that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should not be blamed for issuing the cease-and-desist order (CDO) against the broadcast giant.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III  (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III

Sotto refused to described as “wrong” the NTC’s move to stop the operations of ABS-CBN yesterday, May 5, as he believed that the agency was only “doing its job” after the network’s legislative franchise has expired.

“I will not go as far as saying ‘maling-mali’ (they are wrong in issuing the order), because as far as NTC is concerned, it is doing its job. I am saddened…but I am not in the position to say na ‘maling-mali’ (that they are wrong),” Sotto told reporters in an online meeting Wednesday.

Instead, he pointed out the failure of the House of Representatives to act on franchise renewal of the network.

ABS-CBN, in 2014, applied for a fresh 25-year permit from the 16th Congress, but later withdrew its application “due to time constraints”. It reapplied for a franchise renewal before the 17th Congress in 2016 under the President Duterte’s administration.

Since then, it application has languished in the Lower Chamber.

“Now if the NTC did their job, bakit sila ang sasabihang mali (why would we pin the blame on them)?” he opined, stressing that only Congress has the authority to issue the congressional authority for public utilities to operate.

“The issue is the House of Representatives has not approved the franchise,” he later pointed out.

He, however, said he would not speculate on why congressmen have not decided on the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN. He also cleared Duterte from the issue, despite repeatedly railing against the network over the issue on his campaign advertisements until last February, when the giant network’s executives apologized to him.

“If the President said he will not meddle on it, he will not meddle,” he said.

But pressed on whether he thinks the House’s inaction resulted in ABS-CBN’s closure, he responded: “Yes, whether you like it or not, that’s how it is.”

Sotto appealed anew to the Lower Chamber to “not keep people waiting” and decide on the fate of ABS-CBN.

As for Senate, Sotto maintained that senators cannot do anything about the ABS-CBN’s franchise until the House has transmitted to them the measure.

“We can only express our sentiment, but that’s about it. We cannot do anything about it,” he said.

Still, Sotto said he is optimistic that the Upper Chamber will approve the network’s continued operations.

Last March, the NTC committed to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate. The CDO came after the Solicitor General threatened to charge NTC officials should they push this through.

Malacañang, on Tuesday, distanced itself from the NTC’s order, insisting that the President remains neutral on the issue.