MANILA – Malacañang on Friday deemed it “illegal” to grant broadcast firm ABS-CBN a provisional license to operate pending the renewal of its expiring franchise in May.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo backed lawyer Lorenzo Gadon’s move to ask the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from issuing a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN.
Panelo said the NTC has no authority to grant a provisional authority in favor of the network.
“A provisional authority cannot be legal because the NTC cannot give provisional authority if there is no franchise. If the franchise expires, then there is nothing to give provisional authority for an extension,” he said in a media interview at the Palace.
On Thursday, Gadon filed a petition for prohibition to SC, asking it to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC from complying with the House of Representatives’ appeal to the commission to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate “from May 4, 2020, until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.”
Gadon, in his petition, said the NTC has no jurisdiction to issue a permit to operate when ABS-CBN’s franchise expires since its functions are “merely regulatory and supervisory.”
Panelo maintained that ABS-CBN’s fate depends on the Congress’ approval of a bill renewing its 25-year franchise.
“To put an end to any question on the legality and constitutionality, pass a bill, make it into law, grant them provisional authority,” he told Congress.
ABS-CBN’s franchise expires on May 4 this year, in the event that Congress and Duterte fail to give their nod on the network’s bid for an extension of its legislative franchise for another 25 years.
The congressional franchise of ABS-CBN was granted on Mar. 30, 1995 but the broadcast operations of the local media giant only started 15 days after.
The Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution expressing its belief that ABS-CBN should proceed with its operations while Congress deliberates on its franchise renewal bid.
The House committee on legislative franchises, meanwhile, will hold its first hearing on the 11 pending bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise on March 10. (PNA)