By Hannah L. Torregoza
Thirteen (13) senators have signed a Senate resolution asking the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reverse its cease and desist order against the ABS-CBN Corporation, its subsidiaries and affiliated companies.
It was Senator Risa Hontiveros who initiated the filing of Senate Resolution No. 395 this Thursday, May 7.
The resolution primarily seeks to urge the NTC to reconsider its cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation, so that they can be allowed to continuous the operation of its subsidiaries and affiliates particularly ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., SKY Cable Corporation, and AMCARA Broadcasting Network, Inc., while the measure seeking the renewal of its franchise is still pending in Congress.
Aside from Hontiveros, senators who signed the resolution are Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Ma. Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Pia S. Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Leila de Lima, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, and Joel Villanueva.
The resolution highlighted there is already a “precedent” for entities whose franchises have expired to be allowed to continue to operate, pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress.
The senators pointed out that the NTC recently released Memorandum Order 03-03-2020 which states that all existing NTC-issued permits, certificates, and licenses expiring during the enhanced community quarantine shall be valid 60 days after the end of the government-imposed quarantine measure.
ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise expired last May 4.
“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,” the senators stated in the resolution.
Earlier, Hontiveros said senators are in agreement that the NTC had effectively put in danger the jobs of around 13,000 workers who are considered frontliners in the government’s response to the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
Hontiveros also stressed the importance of upholding the freedom of the press, and the rights of the workers and the public to right information. For his part, Drilon said the NTC commissioners, who refused to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN despite doing so with other franchise holders in the past, should be fired for incompetence. “(They) should be dismissed for their grave abuse of their discretion and causing damage to society by depriving people of a major source of information on the pandemic,
Drilon also said NTC should be held liable for causing the loss of jobs of 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN. “The commissioners also displayed gross and inexcusable ignorance of the law when they disregarded precedents and the opinion of the DOJ,”
Drilon said. “After they renege on their commitment to Congress, there is total loss of confidence on their ability to discharge their duties according to law,” the minority leader said.
READ MORE: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations