NTC seeks advice from DOJ on ABS-CBN franchise extension: Bong Go

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2020 05:02 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2020 06:14 PM

MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission is seeking the Department of Justice’s opinion on whether it should extend the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. if Congress fails to act on bills seeking to grant the broadcast giant a new license, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said Wednesday.

There have been cases in the past when NTC would issue provisional licenses to operate for networks whose franchises are still being heard in Congress, Go, a longtime aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, told reporters.

“Humihingi na din ang NTC ng opinion sa DOJ tungkol dito,” he said.

("The NTC is already asking the DOJ's opinion on this.")

“Kung hindi naman masyado mainit ang isyu, hinahayaan na lang nila,” he said.

("If there are no issues, they just let them be.")

“Ang NTC I’m sure alanganin sila to decide on their own so humihingi sila ng legal opinion from DOJ,” he said.

("I'm sure the NTC is not sure about deciding on their own, so they are asking legal opinion from DOJ.")

Go declined to specify reasons why NTC is hesitant to independently decide on ABS-CBN’s franchise issue.

“Kung nag-lapse, kung pinagbigyan 'yong ibang franchise while being heard sa Congress, dapat magpatuloy muna sila (ABS-CBN). Ayaw natin may mawalan ng trabaho,” he said.

("If it has lapsed and then the franchise of others were provisionally allowed while being heard in Congress, then (ABS-CBN) should also be allowed to continue operating. We don't want anybody losing a job.") 

NO NEED FOR JOINT RESOLUTION

Applying for a provisional license from NTC is better for ABS-CBN, Go said, as he questioned Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon’s joint resolution seeking to extend the network’s license to operate until the end of 2022.

“Hindi ako favor sa resolution kasi napupulitika eh (I'm not in favor of that resolution because it politicizes the matter). It’s either we approve or disapprove,” Go said.

“A joint resolution cannot amend an existing law or franchise,” he said.

Go also urged House members to act on several bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise to finally settle the issue.

“Sa congressmen, just vote according to your conscience... Mas lalo nating pinapatagal, mas lalong umiinit isyu. Pag-usapan niyo na,” he said.

("To the congressmen, just vote according to your conscience... The more we delay, the more the issue heats up. Tackle it now.")

Holding franchise hearings in the Senate despite the lack of action in the House is a more acceptable recourse than passing Drilon’s joint resolution, Go said.

“I will participate in the hearing... I can assure the Filipino people that I will be impartial,” said Go.

Duterte had repeatedly criticized the network for allegedly failing to air some of his campaign advertisements in the 2016 presidential elections.

Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier questioned ABS-CBN’s franchise before the Supreme Court, accusing the broadcast network of violating terms of its franchise and foreign ownership regulation.

ABS-CBN denied Calida’s allegations, saying it has not violated any laws in its 65 years of service.