MANILA – Calling it as some sort of an “ambush,” House Speaker Alan Cayetano has on Friday broke his silence and pointed accusing fingers towards the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Solicitor General Jose Calida over ABS-CBN’s closure as its franchise expired Tuesday, 05 May 2020.
According to sources, at least 11 renewal bills have had been filed in Congress and so the blame on what had become ABS-CBN’s fate appeared to be nothing but the House which accordingly failed to act on them.
It may be recalled SonGen Calida filed a case against the giant network with the Supreme Court citing several franchise violations even as he also threatened to file administrative charges against NTC officials if it won’t issue the now controversial cease and desist order with ABS-CBN.
But finally, on Friday Speaker Cayetano fired back and vowed that there will be “reckoning” for the “flip-flopping of the NTC and the unconstitutional meddling by the solicitor general in the business of Congress.”
Himself a lawyer, Cayetano also stressed that the “exclusive Constitutional authority to grant, deny, extend, revoke or modify broadcast franchises” remains to Congress.
And the Congress “will do its job,” a visibly irked Speaker Cayetano told media on Friday.
“The Committee on Legislative Franchises will conduct hearings” that are “fair, impartial, thorough and comprehensive,” Cayetano said.
He however, failed to mentioned nor indicate an exact day as to when those hearings would commence.
For his part, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque countered that Solicitor General Jose Calida, a member of the president’s cabinet who warned NTC of graft charges if it issues provisional authority to ABS-CBN, did not influence the decision of the telecommunication regulation body.
Roque also asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte remains neutral on the network’s issue having already accepted ABS-CBN’s chief executive Carlo Katigbak’s apology over the controversial 2016 pol ad imbroglio.
In his latest statement on the ABS-CBN shutdown, the Speaker said Congress was on track on priority legislation like the network’s renewal bills but the eruption of Taal Volcano in January 12 got in the way and “necessitated adjustments in the Congressional calendar.”
“It is in this context that the leadership of the House tried to gain a consensus with the Executive Department, through the DOJ and the NTC, to allow us time to properly address the ABS-CBN issue in the midst of all the other more important problems facing the country,” Cayetano said.
In a CNN Philippines report on February 14, the Speaker was quoted as saying that the Congress is “busy” dealing with more important bills to tackle even as he asserted that the broadcast giant will not go off air.
Also in March, Cayetano also claimed that bills for the network’s franchise will be discussed by the House panel either in May or August where “cooler heads” may prevail over an “emotional issue.”
“Despite a resolution from the Senate, and several verbal and written assurances given to Congress – the NTC appears to have succumbed to pressure from the Solicitor General, and issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN,” Cayetano stressed.
A day earlier Thursday, ABS-CBN ran to the Supreme Court and filed a petition to stop the implementation of NTC’s cease and desist order. (IAMIGO/SovereignPH.com)