ABS-CBN pleads SC: Provisional franchise takes time, let us air now

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN filed an urgent reiterative motion before the Supreme Court on Monday, May 18, pleading to void the cease and desist order that was issued to the network and to let them go back on air as soon as possible.

ABS-CBN asked for an immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC's cease and desist order, which would theoretically allow them to resume operations. Their broadcasting operations have been shut since May 5, a day after their 25-year franchise expired on May 4.

The Supreme Court has put this issue on the agenda for its en banc deliberations Tuesday, May 19, according to sources.

While the House of Representatives has promised ABS-CBN a provisional franchise that would last until October 2020, the network said that could still take time.

"The law will still have to be approved by the President and published in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation to take effect. Moreover, ABS-CBN will, thereafter, have to seek and obtain from the NTC the necessary permits to operate. This may take some weeks, if not months," said ABS-CBN in its motion Monday.

"In the meantime, ABS-CBN, its employees, various stakeholders, and the general public will continue to suffer grave and irreparable injury as a result of the Cease and Desist Order issued by the NTC," said the motion.

The motion on Monday is a reiteration of an earlier filed petition for TRO, which invoked equal protection, right to due process, and right to free speech.

ABS-CBN also cited the NTC's own memorandum on March 16 that automatically renewed all permits that would expire within the quarantine period.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano previously said they plan to approve the bill on 3rd and final reading by Monday, May 18. But constitutional questions have been raised over the House's process of passing the bill, as lawmakers approved HB 6732 on 1st and 2nd reading on the same day. (READ: In House temporary franchise bill, gov’t to take 10% of ads in ABS-CBN)

Section 26, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution says no bill “shall become a law unless it has passed 3 readings on separate days," unless the President certifies the measure as urgent. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.