Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

MANILA – Officials of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Thursday expressed regret for their failure to notify the House leadership of its decision to issue a cease and desist order (CDO) against media giant ABS-CBN following the expiration of its franchise on May 4.

In a letter addressed to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House committee on legislative franchises chair Franz Alvarez, the NTC officials said the issuance of a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN was based on their “collective assessment” of existing laws that there were “insurmountable obstacles” to grant the network a provisional authority (PA).

They said that the issuance of a provisional authority would have amounted to an “encroachment” of Congress’ exclusive power to grant, deny, extend, revoke, or modify broadcast franchises.

“We understand that the licensing power of the NTC may only arise from the necessary delegation of power from Congress through a law. The NTC would thus abide by any law passed by Congress which may extend all telecommunication and broadcasting legislative franchises that expired during the public health emergency if there be any,” the officials said.

The letter was in response to the show cause order issued by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises against NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, Deputy Commissioner Delilah Deles, and Legal Branch head Ella Blanca Lopez.

The order directs NTC officials to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for ordering ABS-CBN to halt its operations despite its earlier commitment to grant the network a provisional authority to operate beyond the franchise expiry.

“The NTC could have thus exercised more openness and prudence under the circumstances and, at the very least, alerted Congress of NTC’s inability based on legal grounds to issue the PA as well as its subsequent decision to issue a CDO when the franchise of ABS-CBN expired,” the NTC officials said.

“We are deeply saddened as well for the inconvenience we may have caused Congress. Again, we express our contriteness and sincere apologies for the ensuing confusion this has caused, not the least because we are in the midst of a crisis,” they added. (ia/PNA)

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