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SC defers action on ABS plea vs NTC

Even at the Supreme Court, the ABS-CBN Corporation cannot expect an immediate judicial relief as the 15-member bench decided to defer deliberation on its petition seeking to set aside the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commissions that forced it to go off air following the expiration of its franchise last May 5.

SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka on Tuesday said that the SC magistrates resolved to “call again” the deliberation on the ABS-CBN’s petition during its en banc session on August 4.

“I was able to briefly confer with SC Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, and he confirms that the ABS-CBN Corporation petition will be called again for deliberations by the En Banc on August 4, 2020,” Hosaka said in a text message to reporters.

The NTC issued and served its CDO to ABS-CBN last May 5, a day after its franchise expired.

The network has been off the air for more than two months already, and has been utilizing its social media accounts as platforms for its programs.

In its petition, the media company accused the NTC of committing grave abuse of discretion, which it said amounts to lack of jurisdiction in issuing the CDO.

ABS-CBN also argued that the CDO resulted to irreparable repercussions on public interest especially at this time when there is a pandemic coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

The petitioner also warned that 11,000 workers stand to be affected and lose their jobs.

It also claimed to be losing P35-millions everyday while it is off the air.

The petitioner also said that the CDO also violated the media network’s right to equal protection of the laws.

The NTC, on the other hand, has sought the dismissal of the petition, insisting that there was no grave abuse on the part of the agency to warrant the nullification of the CDO.

The NTC explained that it was merely performing its administrative duty in issuing the CDO since it is the administrative agency tasked to regulate and supervise radio and television broadcast stations.

Meanwhile, the congressmen who voted to give ABS-CBN a new franchise, including those allied with the administration, said they will not be surprised if they will be stripped of their leadership posts.

Reps. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Edcel Lagman of Albay offered this assessment Tuesday following reports that administration lawmakers who voted for the granting of a new franchise for ABS-CBN may suffer the consequences of their action.

“I hope there will be none. Because the [House] leaderdiship says to ‘vote according to your conscience’,” said Zarate. “But if in case it will happen, as it was in the past in the case of the death penalty bill for example, then so be it,” he added.

This developed as Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto maintained she is ready to face the consequence of her decision to vote in favor of ABS-CBN franchise renewal.

Santos-Recto recounted having a similar experience when she voted against the death penalty bill.

“It happened to me already when I voted ‘no’ in the death penalty bill. [The House leadership then instructed us to support this major bill] … the death penalty [bill]. [But] I stood my ground and I voted ‘no’ so I lost my chairmanship,” Vilma said.

“But whatever decision I made on this particular issue-- the renewal ng franchise for ABS-CBN--and there will be the same consequences, I think I’m prepared for that so I will accept it” she added.

Zarate said what is important was that these supposed administration allies stood by their principles.

“Positions and other considerations are just temporary, even fleeting. what is important - and, lasting - is you stood by your principles and did what you believe is for the best interest of our people, the most vulnerable especially like the affected workers, and country,” Zarate said.

Lagman warned that cracking the whip against those congressmen who said to have not toed the line was not reflective of the so-called ‘conscience vote.’

“Any adverse repercussions to Representatives who voted for and/or supported the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is much less than the magnitude of the infringement of press freedom inflicted by the partisan and arbitrary denial of a fresh franchise to the network,” Lagman said.

Lagman also said the 70-11 voting by regular and ex-oficio members of the committee on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability denying the renewal is against the latest Social Weather Stations survey result.

Lagman was referring to the SWS survey which was conducted nationwide before the July 10, 2020 voting which documented that more than 75 percent of Filipinos favor the 25-year franchise renewal of media network ABS-CBN, while only 13 percent of Filipinos disagreed and the rest were undecided.

“An overwhelming majority of Filipinos have effectively withdrawn their mandate to be represented by legislators who voted against the granting of a fresh 25-year franchise to the beleaguered network,” Lagman said.

Topics: Supreme Court , ABS-CBN , National Telecommunications Commissions , COVID-19 , Social Weather Stations , Vilma Santos-Recto , Edcel Lagman , Carlos Zarate , Diosdado Peralta
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