NTC to allow ABS-CBN to operate until June 2022
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NTC to allow ABS-CBN to operate until June 2022

MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday said it would issue a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries to operate until June 2022, while Congress continues to deliberate on its franchise renewal bid.

After receiving resolutions from the Senate and the House of Representatives, the NTC will issue the temporary permit, Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios told reporters.

“Ang advice kasi ngayon is kapag may concurrent resolution, then we can issue the provisional authority,” Cabarios, who received the copy of the resolutions, said. 

(The advice is, if there is a concurrent resolution already, then we can issue the provisional authority.)

“Up to now, yun ang advice (that is the advice), so yes... unless we are restrained by the court,” he said when asked if the agency will definitely issue a provisional permit for ABS-CBN valid through June 2022.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier told senators that Congress needs to issue resolutions to serve as legal basis for the NTC's issuance of a provisional authority for ABS-CBN.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri lauded the NTC decision, saying it upheld jurisprudence and precedence by extending to ABS-CBN the same relief it gave other broadcasting networks.

"Dapat kung anong naibigay sa iba ay dapat maibigay po sa ABS-CBN, kasi kung hindi naman nangyari yun, clearly, nagkaroon ng prejudice, bias for that particular application when all the rest have been given that provisional authority," Zubiri said.

(Whatever was given to others should also be extended to ABS-CBN, because if it doesn't happen that way, clearly, there's prejudice, bias for that particular application when all the rest have been given that provisional authority.)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also praised the NTC for extending ABS-CBN's current license until the end of the 18th Congress in June 2022.

"That is very important because a shorter provisional authority would subject ABS-CBN to question, and that is not consistent with the freedom of the press," Drilon said.

"Based on our own legislative history, while the application for the renewal of the franchise is pending, de facto the expired franchise will continue to exist, especially with provisional authority granted by NTC," he said.

Lawyer Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon earlier filed a petition asking the high court if a provisional authority from an executive agency is enough basis to allow ABS-CBN to operate after its franchise expires on May 4, 2020.

Drilon defended the NTC's decision, saying Congressional resolutions in favor of ABS-CBN's temporary permit should be given due consideration.

"If this is questioned before the court, we leave it to the court... But we maintain our jurisdiction as the grantor of franchise, kaya ang opinion ng Kongreso ay kailangan bigyan ng kaukulang pansin dahil kami po ang nagbibigay ng franchise," he said.

(But we maintain our jurisdiction as the grantor of franchise, that's why the opinion of Congress must be given due consideration because we issue the franchise.)

Until Tuesday, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises did not start tackling several bills seeking to give ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license to broadcast. Congress goes on a break after Wednesday and will resume session on May 4.

The committee, backed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, earlier enjoined the NTC to issue ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate past the expiry of the company's current franchise.

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