MANILA (UPDATED) - A lawmaker filed Thursday a bill that sought to abolish the National Telecommunications Commission after it forced ABS-CBN off air over its stalled franchise renewal.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and the legislative franchise committee earlier urged NTC to let the Philippines' top broadcaster operate provisionally while Congress has yet to tackle its franchise renewal, said Minority Leader Benny Abante.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, under oath, told lawmakers last March that his agency would issue a provisional authority that would let ABS-CBN stay on air after its May 4 license expiration, Abante said.
However, the NTC's cease-and-desist order on Tuesday cited the franchise expiration and said the network would have to appeal to return to the airwaves.
"This brazen act of the NTC is an open defiance and an insult to Congress," Abante said in an explanatory note.
His house bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7925 concerning the development of telecommunication services by abolishing the NTC and transferring its powers to the Department of Information and Communications, which will "hopefully be more responsive to the needs of our changing times," said Abante.
The lawmaker said another reason to scrap NTC was its alleged "failure all these years to invoke sanctions against the companies poorly serving the people's telecommunications needs."
The NTC, he said, "turned out to be one of the most inept and useless agencies whose only relevance lies in being another model for sheer wastage of taxpayer money."
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said there was "sufficient equitable basis" for NTC to give ABS-CBN provisional authority.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, however, urged the agency to issue a cease-and-desist order against against the outfit that employs 11,000.
Calida earlier lodged a quo warranto challenge against ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court. The government's lead lawyer is seeking to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to alleged illegal pay-per-view offerings and foreign ownership.
The network, which reached millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it did not violate the law in its 65 years of service.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.