House panel to summon NTC for order stopping ABS-CBN broadcast: Albano

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2020 06:58 PM | Updated as of May 05 2020 07:13 PM

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MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be summoned to the House of Representatives as it "negated" the Constitutional power of Congress in ordering ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations after its franchise expired on May 4, a lawmaker said Tuesday. 

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises will issue a "show-cause order" to the NTC to explain the order, Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano, vice-chair of the committee, told radio DZMM.

The NTC had earlier "assured" Congress during a committee hearing that a provisional authority would be given to the network, which will in turn give lawmakers time to hear issues surrounding the franchise, he said.

"Nakakalungkot at nakabahala ang in-issue ng NTC. (The order by NTC is upsetting). We have been assured in Congress, in Committee hearing nonetheless, that they would give a provisional authority. At best they should have consulted Congress, they have the legislative power," Albano said.

Congress has sole authority over legislative franchises. 

"What we are planning, we’ll definitely send a show cause order to NTC explaining how can they negate the power of the Congress given by the Constitution itself," he added.

If the NTC fails to answer, the Committee could file the "necessary bills and arrangements to abolish NTC for not following the Congress and Senate itself," Albano said. 

The NTC on Tuesday released a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN citing the lapse of its legislative franchise. 

Albano said even Solicitor General Jose Calida, who earlier questioned ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court, "cannot order the NTC to do anything." 

"It is the court and the law backed by Congress and signed by the president that can order, make policies," Albano said.

The NTC earlier said all live permits to operate and maintain broadcast and pay TV facilities that will expire during Luzon quarantine will be automatically renewed. Licenses will be valid for 60 days after the lifting of the quarantine. 

The Senate also issued Senate Resolution No. 40 on March 4, which expresses the chamber's sense that ABS-CBN should be allowed to continue operations pending its franchise renewal. 

The House of Representatives' committee on legislative franchises, meanwhile, issued a letter to the NTC saying it should give ABS-CBN provisional authority. 

The justice department also issued the commission legal guidance, which said Congress may allow NTC to issue provisional authority for the network to continue operations as part of "equitable practice," as other firms had been able to continue operations despite expired franchises. 

ABS-CBN Corp. said it would go off the air in compliance with the NTC order.