Solicitor General Jose Calida gave a stern warning to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against giving provisional authority to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
In a statement, Calida said the commission cannot issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. because it must first secure a franchise from Congress.
The Solicitor General cautioned NTC that they might get prosecuted under anti-graft laws if they will proceed in giving what he said as an “unlawful” PAs to ABS-CBN without a franchise.
“Although this legislative power may be delegated to administrative agencies through a law, at present, there is no such law giving the NTC or any other agency the power to grant franchises to broadcasting entities,” he said in the statement.
“Hence, a PA should only be issued once a congressional franchise has been granted and an application for CPC is pending before the NTC for approval,” Calida said.
“The NTC cannot issue a PA when the broadcast company has no valid and existing legislative franchise. No less than the Constitution requires a prior franchise from Congress. Hence, when there is no renewal, the franchise expires by operation of law. The franchise ceases to exist and the entity can no longer continue its operations as a public utility,” he added.
On February 10, 2020, Calida filed a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN for allegedly violating its franchise when it operated the pay per view channel KBO.
ABS-CBN’s franchise is about to expire on May 4, 2020.
In February 2020 just before Congress took their Holy Week recess, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises sent a letter to the NTC asking the commission to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN pending its franchise renewal.
The House’s move was followed by the Senate passing a resolution on March 4 expressing the “sense of the Senate” that ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries should continue with its operations pending the deliberation of their franchise renewal.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Alan Cayetano in his recent interview with DZMM, assured all its employees and stars that ABS-CBN will continue with its operations and that there is no move to shut down the network
“Actually dapat on May 4 or 5 may hearing na. But what we want to,gusto namin ipaabot sa lahat ng viewers ng ABS-CBN, DZMM, sa lahat po ng mga empleyado, sa mga stars, directors, wala pong move na isara ang ABS-CBN.”