Senators urge NTC to reconsider CDO vs ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, May 11, 2020 adopted Senate Resolution 395 expressing the "sense of the Senate" urging the National Telecommunications Commission to reconsider its cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN.

22 senators during the opening of the 18th Congress
The 22 senators during the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22, 2019 | Photo Credit: Senator Kiko Pangilinan

Twelve senators voted in favor of the resolution, while 9 senators, including Sen. Pia Cayetano who earlier signed the resolution, abstained. The senators who abstained explained that the issue has already been filed before the Supreme Court and that the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN should emanate from the House of Representatives.

Aside from Cayetano, those who abstained were Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Tolentino, Cynthia Villar, Imee Marcos, Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

PSR 395 also urged the NTC to allow the continuous operation of ABS-CBN, its subsidiaries and affiliates pending the disposition of its franchise renewal.

Cayetano, in withdrawing her signature from the resolution, explained that, as a lawyer, she refuses to express her views once the Supreme Court takes over the matter.

Despite the earlier resolution, the NTC issued the CDO on May 5, 2020 ordering the television network to immediately cease operation. ABS-CBN stopped its operation on the night of May 5.

READ: ABS-CBN goes off air in compliance with NTC order

Sotto in a tweet last week said senators will approve the franchise renewal once it reaches them.

The network filed a petition Thursday last week, saying the NTC "gravely abused" its discretion when it issued a cease-and-desist order instead of deferring to Congress, which has the plenary power to grant and renew legislative franchises.

PSR 395 states that "now more than ever, in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our generation, the Filipino people deserve access to up-to-date news provided by a free and unfettered media, and multiple sources of information provide the best pathways for truth to emerge."

"Equally important, the cease and desist order against ABS-CBN will impact on 13,000 of its workers, creating joblessness that could not be more ill-timed given the looming economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the resolution stated.

The resolution further stated that it was not the first time that the NTC allowed the operations of several entities despite its franchises have already expired.

It cited PT&T, Globe Innove and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, which were allowed to operate despite expired franchises.

— The Summit Express

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