NTC: March memo does not apply to ABS-CBN

Marje Pelayo   •   May 8, 2020   •   1187

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)

House to probe ‘bad loans’ in DBP worth P9.6-B

Marje Pelayo   •   February 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability resumed on Wednesday (February 17) the inquiry on the alleged condonation of the P1.6-B loans made by companies controlled by or affiliated with the Lopez family from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability unanimously agreed to a motion that seeks to include in the on-going inquiry all “bad loans” that the DBP sold to special purpose vehicles (SPV) or financial companies at a loss in 2006.

But the DBP divulged that there is almost P9.6 billion pesos worth of non-performing loans and assets including those of the Lopezes.

“Magkano ang total amount na na-dispose nyo under the framework of the (Special Purpose Vehicle Act of 2002 (SPV) law? As you have said earlier, iyong P1.6B parte lang portfolio nyo of the non-performing assets,” asked Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.

In response to Garbin, the DBP admitted to have sold P9.556 billion of non-performing assets.

The SPV Law allows banks to sell those kinds of loans at a lower value.

“Not only the Lopezes but the entire conglomerates or entities that benefited from the framework of the SPV Law ay dapat isama natin lahat,” Garbin said.

DBP also notified the lawmakers that they currently have around P7.5 billion pesos in non-performing loans and assets.

The Committee agreed to conduct an executive session to determine all the companies that failed to pay loans extended by the bank.

Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor also filed a motion for the issuance of a subpoena that will compel the DBP board and management to submit the list of private companies that failed to pay loans extended by the bank, which the panel approved.

The DBP, for its part, stated that they are willing to provide the needed documents.

“In spirit, I’d like to say that we have been obedient to the due process of this honorable Committee,” said DBP President and CEO Emmanuel Herbosa. 

Meanwhile, Committee Chairperson Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte for the delay of the inquiry on the matter.

According to Aglipay, this is to give way to DBP to produce the requested documents.

“Mr. President, I’m sincerely sorry. And may I humbly request for your forgiveness for the inconvenience that may have caused you by reasons of this hearing,” Aglipay said. 

In his public address on February 8, Duterte once again took a swipe at the Lopezes saying that he will not allow its network ABS-CBN to operate even if they were granted a fresh franchise. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise, unless…

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a new franchise.

In his weekly public address on Monday evening (February 8), the President said lawmakers may do what they are mandated to do as regards this issue.

“Congress is planning to restore the franchise of the Lopez. Wala akong problema doon kung i-restore ninyo (I have no problem if you decide to restore it),” he said following moves from several lawmakers to revive the franchise application of ABS-CBN eight months after it shut down.

“Kung ibigay ninyo ang (If you give them) franchise because it is within your power to do it, go ahead,” he added. 

The Chief Executive maintained, however, that he will order the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) not to grant the media network a license to operate unless the media giant pays its arrears to the government.

“If you say that they can operate, kung meron na sila (once they have the franchise), no, I will not allow them. I will not allow the NTC to grant them the permit to operate,” Duterte said.

“Unless and until mabayaran ng mga Lopez ang taxes nila (Unless and until the Lopezes pay their taxes) I will not. I will ignore your franchise, and I will not give them the license to operate,” he stressed.

Duterte added that allowing ABS-CBN to operate without settling its dues would be similar to “giving them a prize for committing criminal acts.” 

He said he will let the Ombudsman handle the matter between ABS-CBN and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) concerning transactions that involved public funds.

Dumating sa akin ito in official capacity. Ang magawa ko lang dito ay (This reached me in official capacity. What I can do is) I think I’ll pass it on to the Ombudsman. Para sa akin ang Ombudsman ang pinaka-independent body na mag-solve nito. Gusto ko lang ibigay sa kanila kasi , pera ito ng tao. (I believe the Ombudsman is the most independent body to solve this. I want them to handle this because this is people’s money). It’s the government’s money that is involved,” he said.

It was in July last year when ABS-CBN lost its franchise, two months after its franchise expired in May. 

The lawmakers denied their application for a fresh 25-year franchise due to labor and tax violations.

Sotto files Senate bill seeking to renew ABS-CBN franchise

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021

Senator Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Vicente Sotto III filed a Senate bill on Monday (January 4) that seeks the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Senate Bill no. 1967 has been filed to grant the media company a new license to operate for 25 years. On the bill’s explanatory note, Sotto cited the importance of broadcast media in every Filipino home.

“Television and radio—which are both part of traditional media—have revolutionized mass communication due to the instant nature of these media,” he said.

The ABS-CBN’s franchise expired in March 2020. The House panel also denied its franchise renewal. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)


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