Cayetano: House notice to NTC 'sufficient’ to allow ABS-CBN to keep operating

ABS-CBN ISSUE. A file photo of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who is in no hurry to hold hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise. Photo by Rappler

ABS-CBN ISSUE. A file photo of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who is in no hurry to hold hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise.

Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said a notice from the House committee on legislative franchises should be “more than sufficient” for the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating even if its franchise expires. 

Cayetano said this in a chance interview on Monday, February 24, as he insisted that a provisional authority from the NTC would allow the country’s biggest media network to continue operating even if its current franchises lapses. 

“Sa aming pananaw (In our view), a notice from our committee that we are starting the proceedings and they (ABS-CBN) should be allowed to broadcast why we are hearing it is more than sufficient,” Cayetano told reporters at the Batasang Pambansa.

Cayetano said the House is currently in talks with NTC to grant the provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

"The reality is, kung gustong isara, eh 'di isang hearing, deny, sarado 'yan. Or 'wag i-hear, sabihin sa NTC isarado," the Speaker said. (The reality is, if we wanted to shut it down, we would hold one hearing, deny it, and then it would have to close. Or we wouldn't even hold a hearing and just tell NTC to shut them down.)

"Why would we talk to you with forked tongues? What do we have to gain to lie to you? So no’ng sinabi naming 'di magsasara, 'yan ang paninindigan namin. Kung kailangan physically ako ang mag-on ng transmitter or pumunta doon, gagawin ko 'yan. Gagawin ni [House committee on legislative franchises] chairman Chikoy [Alvarez] 'yon," he added.

(Why would we talk to you with forked tongues? What do we have to gain to lie to you? So when we said we wouldn't have it shut down, we would stand by that statement. If I would need to physically go there and turn the transmitter on myself, I'd do it. House committee on legislative franchises chairman Chikoy Alvarez would do it too.)

The Speaker’s statement is consistent with the view of DOJ Secretary Menardo Gueverra, who said in a Senate hearing on Monday that Congress may authorize the NTC to give ABS-CBN the provisional permit to continue operating after the lapse of its franchise. 

Certification won't do?

But other experts disagree. 

Jun Rodriguez, lecturer on Contemporary Issues in Media Law at Ateneo’s Masters in Journalism program, said the network giant has no right to operate after the lapse of its 25-year franchise on May 4 regardless of the pending bills.

The certificate the commission gives broadcasting companies can only be extended if the franchise, granted by Congress, is extended, he added. (READ: Explainer: Can ABS-CBN operate past its franchise expiration date?)

On Monday, ABS-CBN’s executives and key personnel came in full force to the hearing of the Senate public services committee, where they told senators the media network has been “fully compliant” with the law.

It was in the same hearing when Senator Bong Go said President Rodrigo Duterte’s anger towards ABS-CBN was rooted in the network’s airing of a 2016 campaign ad paid for by then-senator Antonio Trillanes IV about Duterte’s cursing and controversial rape mark. (READ: Bong Go: It's those anti-Duterte ads on ABS-CBN that got the boss’ goat) 

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak then apologized for offending the President, but also clarified ABS-CBN was able to air all the national ads ordered by Duterte's campaign team – amounting to P117 million.

Katigbak also said the anti-Duterte ad paid for by Trillanes' camp was covered by the fair election law. 

The House started formal proceedings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal only on Monday morning, when the committee on legislative franchises formally asked all stakeholders to submit position papers. 

But the House leadership is still bent on holding a hearing only in May or early August, when ABS-CBN’s franchise would have already expired. – Rappler.com

RELATED STORIES FROM THE FEBRUARY 24 SENATE HEARING: 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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