VP assails NTC order closing down ABS-CBN during COVID-19 crisis as ‘untimely’

Published May 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Joseph Almer Pedrajas

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo has expressed doubts about the issuance by the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) of a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN despite an earlier commitment they had earlier made that such action will not be taken.


Lawyer Barry Gutierrez , Vice President Robredo’s spokesperson, reiterated that the Vice President’s primary concern on the shutting down of the network is its “timing”, considering that the country is in the midst of a national health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gutierrez questioned on Thursday the NTC’s claim that they did not know about an existing law that prohibits them from issuing a provisional authority when they made a commitment that they will do so.

“Kanina nakikinig ako doon sa kay (NTC) Deputy Commissioner, parang ngayon lang nila nadiskubre noong umaga ng expiration na, ‘Ay, mayroon palang batas from 1931 at dahil diyan, hindi kami puwedeng mag-isyu ng provisional authority,'” Gutierrez said in a television interview.

(Earlier, I listened to the Deputy Commisioner. It seemed like they just discovered on the day of the expiration that there is such a law from 1931, so they could not issue a provisional authority)

“So nakakapagtaka lang na hindi nila pinaalam nang mas maaga na mayroon palang ganiyang klaseng balakid doon sa pag-iisyu ng provisional authority. Nakakapagtaka na bigla na lang parang bumaliktad sila doon sa kanilang commitment,” he added.

(So it’s really doubtful that they were not aware earlier that there was such a hindrance. It’s doubtful that they suddenly changed their minds and reneged on their commitment)

Gutierrez said lawmakers “seemed like they did not do anything to (conduct) hear(ings) on)” the network’s franchise even though there had been continuous calls to start a session and even though lawmakers were aware that they “should do something” to ensure timely action on the petition for franchise renewal.

“Well, una, kailangan talaga nating alalahanin dito at huwag nating kalimutan: hindi naman ito lumabag overnight, eh… So, I’m sure ano, medyo kaduda-duda talaga iyong naging prosesong pinagdaanan natin dito,” he said.

(Well, first, we need to remember and not to forget that the alleged violation(s) of ABS-CBN happened overnight. So I’m sure, the process of ordering its shutdown has raised many doubts.)

“Napakahalaga na sa panahon na ito, ang ating mamamayan ay nakakakuha ng tama at napapanahong impormasyon, at bahagi nga ang ABS-CBN…na may mahalaga silang papel na ginagampanan dito sa pagbibigay ng ganiyang klaseng impormasyon sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

(It’s important that in this time of crisis, our countrymen should get the right and timely information. And ABS-CBN played a big role in the dissemination of information.)

“Puwede kang mag-file siguro ng motion for reconsideration sa NTC, puwede kang magsampa ng kaso sa Korte Suprema. Pero… papaano ka magpupunta sa Korte ngayon sarado lahat, ‘di ba?” he asked.

(They can file a motion for reconsideration at the NTC. They can file charges at the Supreme Court. But how can they do that if most of the courts are closed?)

Read more: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations