MANILA—The head office of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) on Tuesday afternoon had issued a cease and desist order to the TV and radio giant ABS-CBN Network.
According to the cease and desist order, “pursuant to relevant law, it is prohibited to build, to launch, to operate a broadcast station without securing a valid franchise from congress.” The 25-year franchise of the network technically expired on May 4 and their application for the renewal of the franchise is yet to be heard in congress. The network is given 10 days to respond to the order but it is not clear in the provisions whether the network is still allowed to broadcast within this grease period.
In an TV interview with NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, a few hours after the issuance of the said cease and desist order and monitored by Sandigan News and Banat Pilipinas News, he said that according to their legal team, the order of NTC is immediately executory. “Hindi ko rin kabisado kung pwede ba kayong magpapatuloy sa pagbroadcast. Sa ABS-CBN na yan, may legal remedies naman, so you need to consult your legal team to tell you what to do,” Cabarios said.
Isabela Representative Antonio Albano, vice chair of the Committee on Legislative Franchise of the house of representatives was upset about the cease and desist order of the NTC. He said “May maraming ginawang panukala na dinidinig namin sa kongreso sa pagtugon nitong Covid-19 pandemic crisis, paggawa ng stimulus package upang may makakain ang ating mamamayan and here they cause this kind of problem, and I am much disturbed by this,” Albano lamented.
He further said that during the previous committee hearings attended by NTC commissioners and Solicitor General Jose Calida, the NTC assured them that they would give provisional authority to ABS-CBN while the new application for franchise was still deliberated in congress.
He said that their committee would call the attention of NTC immediately and even warned that they might take action to abolish NTC for negating the powers of congress to grant franchises, and not following the tenet in accordance with law.
On the other hand, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate called on the leadership of congress to immediate convene to pass a legislative measure granting ABS-CBN the franchise. “Tulad nang nangyari sa ibang franchise application na tumagal lang ng isang araw may franchise na. Baka pwede itong gawin,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the action of the NTC is below the belt. Nonoy Espina, NUJP president said it gives a message that this government does not care about our rights. “Sobrang garapalan na ang ginawa. Wala namang violation. Bakit isara in this time na nangangailan ang bayan ng impormasyon. I think we have crossed a line, hindi lang sa media, kondi sa taongbayan,” Espina continued.