Is Cayetano trying to bring back ABS-CBN to life?

With four days left on its franchise, ABS-CBN saw a ray of hope of getting a new lease on life yesterday when House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he will meet with a number of Senators today (Thursday, April 30, 2020) to discuss how they can fast-track the conduct of legislative hearings during the extended lockdown.

In an interview on DZMM, Cayetano said he will explore the possibility of both chambers of Congress adopting a joint resolution expressing a desire for an extension of the network’s broadcast operations even when its existing franchise expires on May 4, 2020.

I smell a dead rat.

ABS-CBN is making covert moves to provide reason for the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority to operate.

At the risk of being redundant, it is crystal clear that the NTC has no such authority to issue a provisional authority or permit.

The language of the Supreme Court decision in “Associated Communications & Wireless Corp. vs. National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)” handed down on February 17, 2003 expressly stated the rule that without a franchise, the NTC cannot even accept an application for a permit.

In that decision, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the requirement for a legislative franchise might be superfluous. The law has already put in place a regulatory mechanism for broadcasting networks. But then, the Supreme Court said that the law needs to be changed for the requirement to be dispensed with.

ABS-CBN seems to have interpreted Memorandum Order No. 01-03-2020 issued by the NTC on March 16, 2020 as a grant of reprieve for the network. That is a wrong take on the meaning of the administrative order. For one thing, an administrative order cannot substitute for a franchise. It is not even specific for ABS-CBN. If NTC had intended to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority, then it would have expressly stated it that way. It is not a quarantine pass with a “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN” heading.

Moreover, the language of the memorandum order shows that it covers companies that “operate and maintain telecommunications facilities” nationwide. It grants these companies a period of 60 days to comply with the administrative requirements for renewing their permits for their operations. Among others, it covers telecommunications companies like PLDT, Smart, Globelines, Bayantel and the like.

Finally, it is the franchise of ABS-CBN that will expire, not its permit from NTC.

There is a big whale of a difference between a franchise and a permit. The NTC should be cautious in navigating this course. It might cost the careers of the officials who make the mistake of deliberately violating the law.


About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

One Response to Is Cayetano trying to bring back ABS-CBN to life?

  1. Gen Rev says:

    Perfectly stated and concluded. Great feed to the uninformed public and misguided individuals.


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