Chief presidential counsel questions ABS-CBN's plea against shutdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2020 04:03 PM

Chief presidential counsel questions ABS-CBN's plea against shutdown 1
A store-owner watches the final airing of TV Patrol moments before ABS-CBN signed off on May 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's chief legal counsel questioned Friday ABS-CBN Corp's petition to the Supreme Court seeking to stop the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) order to shut down its broadcast operations, citing technicalities over the plea.

ABS-CBN on Thursday asked the high tribunal to stop the implementation of the cease and desist order issued by NTC, which had prompted the media giant to go off the air Tuesday night for the first time since the Marcos dictatorship. 

The network also sought an urgent temporary restraining order. The case will be raffled to a handling magistrate on Monday, the Supreme Court said. 

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said a temporary restraining order is filed if there is a right violated under the law, which he claimed is not the case with ABS-CBN.

"Ang problema ho ay ang sitwasyon ay walang prangkisa, so kung walang prangkisa wala kang karapatan mag-operate," he said in his commentary program.

(The problem is that in this situation, there is no franchise. If there is no franchise, there is no right to operate.)

"Kung wala kang karapatan mag-operate ano ang ipinatitigil mong paglabag ng karapatan?" he said.

(If you don't have a right to operate, what supposed violation to your right are you trying to stop?)

ABS-CBN's franchise expired on May 4 as Congress has yet to act on several bills seeking a fresh 25-year license for the media firm. The renewal measures have been pending since 2014. 

The media network, in its petition for a TRO, said the NTC gravely abused its discretion when it issued a "cease and desist" order instead of deferring to Congress and issuing a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN and its stations to continue operating, as the commission had said under oath in a meeting with lawmakers.

Congress, it said, has the plenary power to grant and renew legislative franchises.

Panelo sided with the NTC, saying ordering ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting was the right thing to do under the law.

"'Yung ginawa ng NTC ay naaayon sa batas sapagkat sa batas ay di maaaring mag-operate ang isang network kung ito po ay walang prangkisa," he said.

(What the NTC did was in adherence to the law because under the law, a network cannot operate without a franchise.)

"Ang batas po ay hindi naghihintay ng panahon. Ang pagpapatupad ng batas ay sa lahat ng panahon," he added.

(The law doesn't wait for the right time. The law is implemented all the time.)

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