House committee adopts letter to NTC on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2020 05:50 AM

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has adopted the letter of Chairman Franz Alvarez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to give ABS-CBN and its affiliate companies a provisional authority to operate as the official position of the panel and the House of Representatives.

No one objected to the Motion of Mindoro Occidental Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato who also laid down the legal framework for the act of asking the NTC to issue the PA, subject to the terms of the expiring franchise in Republic Act 7966.

Sato said, “It is an honored and established practice that during the period that the bill on the renewal of franchise is pending and is being deliberated upon by the House of Representatives, which has the orignal and exclusive jurisidiction in the grant of franchises, the TV radio station is allowed to continue its operations unhampered on grounds of equity and taking into consideration the interest of the listening and viewing public and of course the interest of the employees.”

“This jurisprudence has been established by the Supreme Court in a number of case like the case of Reyes vs Lim GR 135421 dated August 11 2003 and Enrile vs Sandiganbayan GR 213846 July 12, 2016,” she added.

“I further resolve to allow the ABS-CBN Corporation and its affiliate corporations, ABS-CBN Convergence, Sky Cable, and Amcara Broadcasting Corporation to continue its operations unhampered beyond May 4, 2020 and or until the final resolution by the House of Representatives of the bill for the renewal of its franchise.”

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez tried to amend Sato’s motion, claiming his amendments will make it a legal and proper delegation of power. ”We have to put the standards otherwise it will be questioned by those who are against,” he said.

Albay Rep. Edce Lagman, meanwhile, maintained the franchising power of Congress can only be delegated by law and not by mere letter.

In response, NTC Commissionner Gamaliel Cordoba said, “The NTC will follow the latest advice of DOJ and let ABS-CBN continue operations based on equity.”

House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel pressed Cordoba if the NTC will issue the provisional authority, to which Cordoba replied, “Most likely we will follow the latest opinion of the Secrertary of Justice.”

During a Senate hearing last February 24, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra cited the rule of equity in granting the provisional authority pending franchise renewal.