MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has expressed support on a proposed measure seeking the non-expiration of franchises with renewal applications pending in Congress.
Senate Bill Number 1530 filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon aims to include franchise in Book 7 Chapter 3 Section 18 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines which states that an existing license of a licensee who has made a timely and sufficient renewal application shall not expire until the application has been finally determined.
During the Committee hearing on Thursday (May 27), the NTC said the measure will fill in the gap in the law, noting that it is following Republic Act 3846 or the ‘Radio Control Law’ which provides that no person or firm can operate a radio station without having first obtained a congressional franchise.
“Malaking bagay po ito para po ma-fix ang gap sa batas para po kapag may pending matters ay ito po ay mai-consider na buhay pa [This will help fill the gap in the law to consider a franchise as valid while matters are pending],” explained NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.
However, the Commission said that it never issued provisional franchises to stations with expired franchises but with pending renewal applications in Congress and just allowed them to continue operating.
Cordoba said what makes the case of ABS-CBN different from others that they had to issue a cease and desist order, was the quo warranto petition filed against the media giant.
He added that they have issued such orders before but only to radio stations who illegally operated during the 2019 elections.
“The difference from those instances on the ABS-CBN issue is that (with) ABS-CBN, a case for quo warranto was actually filed by the solicitor general. Kaya po medyo naging [That’s why it became] untenable on our part to let it continue because of the clear letter of the law in the Republic Act 3846,” Cordoba said.
However, Senator Drilon believes there has been an inconsistency on the part of the NTC in exercising its power in issuing cease and desist orders.
“At the very least, it appears that there is an inconsistency in exercising power (inaudible) in equal protection of the law,” the Senate Minority leader said.
“This is precisely a remedial legislation that we have introduced so that this kind of gap can be addressed,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines — House Minority Floor Leader Benny Abante hit the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for allegedly not doing a proper job of regulating the country’s telecommunications industry.
Abante slammed NTC for lagging behind other countries in telecommunication platforms, particularly when it comes to data and internet technology.
“Our NTC, supposedly in charge of regulating and promoting the telecommunications industry has 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,” he said in a privilege speech.
He also hit the agency for turning a blind eye on the telcos’ poor services.
“Did the NTC ever suspend or penalize the likes of PLDT, GLobe or Smart [despite the numerous issues and problems like] dropped calls, unregistered prepaid cards, expensive text messaging fee, phone scams, poor telephone service, lack of interconnections [among others?]” Abante asked.
He claims that the NTC’s issuance of a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN is a “slap in the face of Congress and an outright act of defiance” as it contradicts its own words before the Legislative Franchise Committee Hearing on March 20.
“Its failure all these years to invoke sanctions against the companies poorly serving the people’s telecommunications needs is a perfect reason to abolish it already,” he added
Abante filed House Bill 6701 which seeks to amend RA 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act by abolishing the NTC and its powers and functions be transferred to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte First District Rep. Lawrence Fortun filed a resolution which condemns NTC’s CDO against ABS-CBN.
He urged the Legislative Franchise Committee to expedite deliberations on the network’s franchise.
He also noted that the Supreme Court may opt to dismiss the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN as the franchise in question has already expired. MNP (with inputs from Vincent Arboleda)
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) advises media giant ABS-CBN to appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court (SC) to resume broadcast on TV and radio after its shutdown on Tuesday evening (May 5).
According to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, a TRO is ABS-CBN’s potential remedy for now to stop the cease and desist order issued by the agency after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4.
“If they get the TRO then they can resume operation,” Cabarios said.
The NTC explained that only the Congress has the power to grant a franchise to media networks in the country.
“Section 1 kasi ng Act 3846 ay klaro na kung wala kang congressional franchise, you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations, [Section 1 of Republic Act 3846 is clear, without congressional franchise you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations],” the NTC official said.
Cabarios clarified, however, that ABS-CBN programs may still be aired on other platforms.
“Pwede sa online, Internet, pwede ring cable television or pwede ring sa ibang radio and television stations na mayroon valid franchise at authority from the Commission [They can go online, they may use the Internet or other cable, radio or television stations that have valid franchise and authority from the Commission],” he noted.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the NTC’s action saying it was an attack on press freedom.
“The cease and desist order issued by the NTC against ABS-CBN is a deplorable assault on free press that further reveals that this administration is more interested in restricting basic freedoms than in containing a pandemic,” the group said in a statement.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted the importance of the media’s role in democracy.
“Gusto lang natin na ma-tackle ito, ma-deliberate ito, [We want this tackled and deliberated],” argued CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline De Guia.
“Kasi ang isa sa mga suliranin sa kasong ito ay hindi nagkakaroon ng tamang pagdinig doon sa issue na kinakaharap para sa pagre-renew ng franchise, [One of the problems in this case is the lack of deliberation on the franchise renewal]” she concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)
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