The Anti-Red Tape Authority revoked a declaration granting News and Entertainment Network Corp. and Now Telecom Company Inc. (NOW) automatic approval of their 16-year petition for radio frequencies from the National Telecommunications Commission.
The Ombudsman earlier put key ARTA officials led by director-general Jeremiah Belgica on preventive suspension for six months over the Now Telecom case filed by DITO Telecommunity Corp. The Velarde family controls Newsnet and Now Telecom.
Documents obtained from ARTA showed the agency did not follow up and filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals after the Department of Justice upheld NTC’s mandate to evaluate and decide on matters involving frequency assignment.
The DOJ resolution stated that NTC’s function of assigning and use of frequency is not covered by the 3-7-20 day timeline and “Deemed Automatic Approval” cause under the Ease of Doing Business Act, which was used by ARTA to press NTC to allocate frequencies to Newsnet and Now Telecom.
The two ARTA resolutions which followed the ruling laid down by the Department of Justice decision dated July 9, 2021 restored NTC’s supreme authority over the assignment of frequencies particularly on the request of Newsnet and Now Telecom.
ARTA issued the resolutions after the DOJ resolution became final and executory.
Documents showed that Newsnet and Now Telecom filed before ARTA two separate complaints, in 2019 and 2020, respectively, seeking automatic approval and assignment of various frequencies. ARTA granted the request of both complainants.
The NTC, however, filed for adjudication of the two cases before the DOJ, questioning ARTA’s jurisdiction over its quasi-judicial powers.
The DOJ reversed and set aside the order of automatic approval issued by ARTA in favor of Newsnet, saying that the EODB Act was not applicable to NTC transactions with respect to the assignment and use of frequencies.
ARTA appealed the DOJ decision to the Office of the President. The OP dismissed ARTA’s appeal and motion for reconsideration. The OP issued an order on April 25, 2022 declaring the decision final and executory.
ARTA cited the uniform rules on dispute resolution under Presidential Decree No. 242 which states that “the said resolution is final and binding upon parties, and shall have the same force and effect of a final decision of a court of justice.”
ARTA officer-in-charge Ernesto Perez, enforcement and litigation officer Leonardo Tapia and litigation division head John Ramil Rabe signed the two resolutions.