Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology, won’t interfere with franchise issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2020   •   693

President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted ABS-CBN’s apology over its failure to air his political advertisement worth P2.6 million during the 2016 election and the airing of a political ad against the President paid for by his staunch critic, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Yes, nandiyan iyan (it’s already there). I accept the apology of course,” he said during an interview with reporters on Wednesday (February 26).

ABS-CBN chief executive officer Carlo L. Katigbak apologized on Monday (February 24) saying it was not the intention of the network to offend the President.

Duterte also reiterated that he will not interfere with the network’s franchise issue.

“I leave it to Congress. The critical move is in the House and I tell you I am not going to interfere,” the President said.

He added that he has not decided yet whether to sign into law the bill granting ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license to operate.

“I will cross the bridge when I get there. Maybe I will call the media to help me out. It would be a difficult decision, really,” he said.—AAC

 

Malacañang respects ABS-CBN’s appeal to Supreme Court against NTC

Marje Pelayo   •   May 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it respects the ABS-CBN Corporation’s appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) against the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said it is the right of the network to seek legal remedies for its case.

“That’s their right. Let’s await the decision of the Court,” Roque said when asked about the petition filed by ABS-CBN which seeks for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the cease and desist order issued by the NTC.

On the petition, the media network is questioning the NTC’s alleged “grave abuse of discretion” when it issued the order.

The NTC also allegedly violated the equal protection of the law and due process as well as the public’s right to information.

Meanwhile, law expert Atty. George Erwin Garcia believes such a legal remedy is the best way to resolve the shutdown order.

Through this, ABS-CBN can resume operation of its television and radio stations.

The TRO is more effective than a political remedy which is Congress’ approval of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal bill

Dahil ang issue ay legal, hindi siya factual issue, therefore, sa aking paniniwala, papasok ang discretion ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman. At dahil mayroong constitutional rights na involved, at dahil wala pa siyang interpretation before, then tama lamang, just to protect the rights and interest of everyone, na makapag-issue siya ng TRO,” he added.

(Because the issue here is legal and not a factual issue, therefore, I believe the Supreme Court’s discretion will come in. And since it involves constitutional rights and because the SC has no prior interpretation, it’s only right — to protect the rights and interest of everyone — for SC to issue a TRO). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz),

Bill seeking to abolish NTC over ABS-CBN shutdown filed in Congress

Marje Pelayo   •   May 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — House Minority Floor Leader Benny Abante hit the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for allegedly not doing a proper job of regulating the country’s telecommunications industry.

Abante slammed NTC for lagging behind other countries in telecommunication platforms, particularly when it comes to data and internet technology.

“Our NTC, supposedly in charge of regulating and promoting the telecommunications industry has turned out to be one of the most inept and useless agencies whose only relevance lies in being another model for sheer wastage of taxpayer money,” he said in a privilege speech. 

He also hit the agency for turning a blind eye on the telcos’ poor services.

“Did the NTC ever suspend or penalize the likes of PLDT, GLobe or Smart [despite the numerous issues and problems like] dropped calls, unregistered prepaid cards, expensive text messaging fee, phone scams, poor telephone service, lack of interconnections [among others?]” Abante asked.

He claims that the NTC’s issuance of a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN is a “slap in the face of Congress and an outright act of defiance” as it contradicts its own words before the Legislative Franchise Committee Hearing on March 20.

“Its failure all these years to invoke sanctions against the companies poorly serving the people’s telecommunications needs is a perfect reason to abolish it already,” he added

Abante filed House Bill 6701 which seeks to amend RA 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act by abolishing the NTC and its powers and functions be transferred to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte First District Rep. Lawrence Fortun filed a resolution which condemns NTC’s CDO against ABS-CBN.

He urged the Legislative Franchise Committee to expedite deliberations on the network’s franchise. 

He also noted that the Supreme Court may opt to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN as the franchise in question has already expired. MNP (with inputs from Vincent Arboleda)

NTC: March memo does not apply to ABS-CBN

Marje Pelayo   •   May 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) clarified that the memorandum it released in March does not apply to ABS-CBN. 

An NTC memorandum has been circulating on social media which states that all NTC-issued certificates and licenses that expired during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) between March 15 and April 14, “shall continue to be valid sixty days after the end of the government-imposed quarantine period.” 

The memo was dated March 18, 2020 and signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba. 

“Holders of these permits, certificates and licenses shall be given 60 days from the end of the government-imposed quarantine period to file for the renewal of their permits, certificates, and licenses without penalties or surcharges,” the memo said.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said the NTC seemed to have violated its own memo when it issued a cease-and-desist order against media network ABS-CBN — just a day before its franchise expired. 

“The NTC violated its own memo when it singled out ABS-CBN by issuing the CDO. It has to recall the said CDO. This may be illusory,” Rodriguez said.

In response, the NTC said such memorandum is not applicable to ABS-CBN anymore because the network no longer has the authority to operate.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios explained that the said memorandum refers to licenses and permits, such as for studio transmitter links, which require annual renewal.

“Under existing laws, ang mga [permit ng] radio stations ay nag-e-expire iyan every year. So, nire-renew nila iyan every year, ito po ang covered noon [memorandum], hindi po ang authority [to operate],” he said.

In the case of ABS-CBN, the station’s transmitter permit is not the issue in question but rather the termination of its authority to operate when its legislative franchise expired on May 4.

“Kasi ang authority [to operate], merong validity iyan na co-terminus with the franchise. So, kung wala nang franchise, wala ng authority,” he said. 

Meanwhile in the Senate, a resolution pending submission is urging the NTC to reconsider its order to stop the network’s broadcast. 

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said several senators agree on the importance of factual news information at this time of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

She stressed that such a decision by the NTC brought thousands of network employees on the verge of uncertainty. 

In March, the NTC accepted the copy of a Senate resolution which stated its support for the continuous operation of ABS-CBN through a provisional authority while the network’s franchise renewal application was pending deliberation in Congress. 

That time, Cabarios also said that the NTC would grant the network a provisional authority with a validity of until June 2022 or on the last day of 18th Congress once it’s franchise expires on May 4.

READ: ABS-CBN may ask SC for TRO against shutdown order — NTC

The NTC, meanwhile, said it will consult its legal department on the pending resolution. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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