MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will heed the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on the fate of media giant ABS-CBN as its franchise expires on Monday (May 4).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this comment in a virtual presser on Monday after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned that the NTC could not grant provisional authorities to ABS-CBN Corporation and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., without securing a franchise from Congress.
“Ang Presidente naman po, ipapatupad po kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng National Telecom Commission (The President will implement the decision of the NTC),” Roque said. “Itong bagay pong ito (This thing) is a matter that must be dealt with by the NTC as a quasi-judicial body at hihintayin po natin ang sagot ng (and we will wait for the answer of the) National Telecommunications Commission,” he said.
He said only the NTC has “specialized competence” to make the decision to allow ABS-CBN to operate.
“We will apply the exhaustion of administrative remedies, the matter po ay dedesisyunan ng (will be decided by an) administrative agency which has specialized competence para magdesisyon sa mga bagay na ito (to make a decision on matters like this), which is the National Telecommunications Commission, and we defer to whatever ruling the NTC may have,” he added.
Last February 26, Duterte said he accepted the apology of ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak over his unaired campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections.
Roque pointed out that Duterte’s sentiments should not influence the NTC.
“Ang alam ko po ay iyong alam ninyo rin na napatawad ng Presidente ang ABS-CBN; pero hindi naman po pupuwedeng ma-impluwensiyahan ng ating Presidente ang NTC dahil sa batas, desisyon po ng Komisyon iyan (I know the President has forgiven ABS-CBN; but the President cannot influence the NTC because the law says the decision has to be made by the Commission),” he said.
Duterte also said he would keep a “healthy distance” from issues surrounding the franchise renewal bid of ABS-CBN, stressing that Calida was acting on his own when he filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN in February, invalidating the network’s franchise for supposed violations.
Earlier, Calida said the NTC commissioners could face prosecution under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if it decides to issue the provisional authority to ABS-CBN and Convergence.
However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) insisted that ABS-CBN may continue with its operations pending the renewal of its franchise.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said it will follow the advice of the DOJ allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress. (ia/PNA)