By Hannah Torregoza
A resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reconsider its cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation would be routed for signature among members of the Senate, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senator Risa Hontiveros / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Hontiveros said at least eight (8) senators from both the majority and minority bloc have made a commitment to sign the resolution. The senator said she hopes more colleagues would support the measure, which she will file today.
“I hope that more of my colleagues in the Senate express support to this resolution. At sana pakinggan na ito ng NTC kasi sa huli, ang mga Pilipino talaga ang talo sa (I hope the NTC listens to this, because in the end, it is the Filipino people who stand to lose with this) cease and desist order,” Hontiveros said in a virtual press briefing.
Senators, she said, 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 on the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
“Una nang nagsabi ng legal opinion ang Department of Justice (DOJ) na maaaring magpatuloy ang operasyon ng ABS-CBN. Ito din ang naging opinion ng Senado nung in-adopt namin ang resolusyong i-authorize ang NTC sa pagbigay ng provisional authority, (the DOJ was the first to provide a legal opinion that ABS-CBN can continue its operations. This was also the opinion of the Senate when we adopted the resolution authorizing the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN),” she said.
Senators insist that the granting of provisional authority to franchise holders whose franchise were still pending renewal before Congress is nothing new.
“There is precedent: 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. PT&T’s franchise expired in November 2015, and was only renewed on July 21, 2016,” she said.
Asked if she believes there was a dereliction of duty on the part of the House of Representatives, Hontiveros said she doesn’t think so, saying that though House members immediately acting on the bill could have avoided the situation, their counterparts were already in the middle of hearing ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
She said the situation now is for the legislative branch to assert its position and ask the NTC to reconsider its position.
Hontiveros also welcomed the House committee on legislative franchise’s commitment to pursue the passage of the bill on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal and its move to also call out the NTC for succumbing to the threat of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
“The NTC broke their commitment and what they did was so contrary to common practice. And they do admit that this is the first time they issued a cease and desist order which for us is out of ordinary because there are other recourse,” Hontiveros said.
“We need to uphold freedom of the press, the rights of the workers and the rights of the people to right information,” she reiterated.