By Ben Rosario
Two independent senior members of the House of Representatives cleared the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of any fault on the ABS-CBN franchise fiasco, saying that the chamber’s leadership should carry the blame for the network’s closure.
Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said that while the House leadership acted like “Pontius Pilate” or “Nero” by not acting on ABS CBN’s application for legislative franchise extension, the network’s 11,000 employes have now become jobless.
On the other hand, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the NTC cannot be used “as the scapegoat for the patent failure of the leadership of the House of Representatives to resolutely push for the seasonable renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.”
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has yet to respond to the allegations of his two critics.
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusement, similarly has not aired his side on the issue.
However, the two legislators said Alvarez may also be cleared of responsibility on the controversy because he had deferred to the leadership’s decisions in connection with the treatment of ABS CBN’s franchise application.
“Ang tunay na may kasalanan dito ay iyong tanggapan inaasahan na magbigay ng kapangyarihan upang magpatuloy ang ABS-CBN ng operasyon,” said Atienza. (The agency that is expected to grant ABS-CBN the power to continue operation is the one that is at fault here.”
“Ako ay nahihiya sa mga nangyayaring ito. (I am embarassed by what is happening) I would like to apologize to all of you, we admit that we are failing the expectations of the law and the people on this particular issue,” the former Manila mayor stressed.
Both Lagman and Atienza recalled that they have aired numerous appeals for the House of leadership to take up ABS CBN’s legislative franchise extension long before the May 4 expiration.
“The ball is in your hands, Mr. Speaker. I hope one day Speaker Cayetano will be able to answer why are you choosing not to perform our task,” stated Atienza.
Lagman said the only solution to the ABS-CBN dilemma is for Congress to immediately renew its congressional franchise.
“I have repeatedly warned that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s proffered solution for NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate, despite the lapse of its franchise, is against the law and jurisprudence,” he recalled.
“It appears that Speaker Cayetano and Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of NTC were playing charades because after Cordoba undertook to grant the provisional authority, the NTC nonetheless issued the cease and desist order for ABS-CBN to stop operations,” said Lagman.
Read more: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations