Malacañang said media giant ABS-CBN “is free to exhaust all legal remedies available” after the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) ordered it to stop its operations.
The NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN following the expiration of its congressional franchise on May 4, 2020.
“The Palace notes that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation for lack of a valid legislative franchise. ABS-CBN is free to exhaust all legal remedies available to it,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Roque said in a statement.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has already accepted the network’s apology so he was leaving the matter to the Congress.
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.
“Let the public be informed that broadcast franchises are within the authority of Congress. It has discretion on what to do with the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN and other broadcasting companies similarly situated,” Roque said.
He thanked the network for its services to the Filipino nation and people especially in this time of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
However, Roque also said the absence of a legislative franchise, ABS-CBN’s continued operation is entirely the decision of the NTC.
In its order dated May 5, the NTC directed the network to halt operations of its various television (TV) and radio broadcast stations nationwide.
The NTC has also given ABS-CBN 10 days from the receipt of the order to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.
ABS-CBN, in a statement, said it will go off-the-air starting Tuesday night.
“This is in compliance with the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) today that prohibits ABS-CBN from continuing its broadcast operations effective immediately,” it said.
Solicitor General Jose 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.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said that ABS-CBN may continue with its operations pending the renewal of its franchise.
Roque expressed confidence that Congress would tackle all the issues on the legality of granting a franchise to ABS-CBN, including the broadcast firm’s supposed violation of the 1987 Constitution when it allowed foreign ownership of the Philippine media entity. (PNA)