MANILA – Malacañang said on Saturday the proposed abolition of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be up to Congress.
During the Laging Handa program aired on government-owned PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace would leave the NTC’s fate to Congress.
“Iiwan po natin iyan sa lehislatura. Alam niyo naman po iyan, independiente at co-equal branch ng government iyan. Kung talagang ia-abolish naman nila ang NTC, eh ipapatupad naman po iyan ng executive branch ng government (We will leave it to the legislature. It is an independent and co-equal branch of the government. If NTC will indeed be abolished, the executive branch of government will follow),” Roque said.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. urged Congress to abolish the NTC and transfer its powers to the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Abante made the call after the NTC on Tuesday directed local media giant ABS-CBN Corp. to cease its broadcast operations following the expiration of the network’s franchise on May 4.
The NTC, in its cease and desist order dated May 5, ordered ABS-CBN to stop the operations of its television and radio stations since the broadcast firm no longer has a franchise.
Abante said the NTC’s directive is a “slap in the face of Congress and an outright act of defiance” because the commission earlier ensured lawmakers that it would give ABS-CBN the provisional authority to operate beyond its franchise expiration.
The NTC had made the commitment to Congress after the House of Representatives failed to act on the 11 pending bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s 25-year congressional franchise.
Roque maintained that only Congress, subject to the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, can renew the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.
“Malinaw na malinaw po sa Saliang Batas. Tanging Kongreso lamang po ang pwedeng mag-bigay ng prangkisa. Wala na pong ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na pupwedeng mag-bigay ng ganiyang prangkisa (The Constitution is very clear. Only Congress can grant a franchise. No government agency can give such franchise),” he said.
Roque said issues surrounding ABS-CBN’s franchise should now be resolved before the Supreme Court (SC).
“Iyan po ay sinampa na sa ating Korte Suprema at bibigyan tayo ng kasagutan ng ating hukuman. Hintayin po natin ang sagot ng ating hukuman (The issue was already raised before the Supreme Court and we will get a response from the court. Let’s wait for the court’s response),” he said.
ABS-CBN on Thursday urged SC to nullify and set aside the NTC’s order, claiming that the commission “gravely abused its discretion” when it issued a cease and desist order.
It also argued that NTC’s order “violates the right of the public to information and curtail freedom of speech, as well as cause serious and irreparable damage on ABS-CBN and thousands of its employees if its implementation is not halted.” (ia/PNA)