The National Telecommunications Commission has agreed to issue a provisional authority to allow broadcast giant ABS-CBN to operate pending the renewal of its franchise.
READ: House bloc bats for ABS-CBN permit renewal
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba made the announcement Tuesday during the hearing of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises led by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez.
As this developed, the Supreme Court has again deferred taking action on the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General seeking to forfeit the franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation.
Supreme Court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the deliberations on the quo warranto petition were still ongoing.
He said the Court will resume deliberations on the quo warranto petition case during its summer en banc session in Baguio City on April 14.
AGUSAN del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun on Tuesday maintained his support for the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN.
“We expect that in the hearing on March 10, the NTC, having already earlier received a letter from the House legislative franchises committee enjoining it to issue ABS-CBN a provisional authority, will manifest its commitment to issue such permit pending renewal of the franchise,” he said in a statement.
Cordoba said this decision was based on the latest advice of the Department of Justice to let the media network operate based on “equity.”
READ: ABS-CBN off air, franchise pending—DOJ
“A more stable legal environment could be created...to authorize NTC to issue a provisional authority to this broadcasting company, under such terms and conditions as it may deem necessary until Congress’ final disposition of the franchise renewal bill,” Cordoba said.
“The NTC will follow the advice of the DOJ and let ABS-CBN continue its operations based on equity.”
Tuesday was the first time the House formally held a hearing on ABS-CBN’s bid to get another 25-year franchise ahead of its supposed expiry on May 4.
During the hearing, the House committee adopted the letter sent by Alvarez and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to the NTC urging the commission to grant the network a provisional permit.
Cayetano said NTC’s response was its “polite” way of following the House order.
Cayetano said the hearing was a “success,” even if the first 40 minutes of the one-hour deliberation was spent on the drafting of ground rules.
Congressmen first argued whether sponsorship speeches, as proposed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, should be heard before officially starting.
Afterwards, they debated whether they should agree to House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel’s motion that those who were against the franchise renewal should talk first.
“Some of our colleagues here are a little emotional, so the committee found it prudent to lay down additional rules so that we have an organized system in the hearing,” Pimentel said.
A total of 11 bills were supposed to be up for deliberation on Tuesday, three days before the House goes on a Holy Week break.
Cayetano noted that they would not immediately reject those measures even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the quo warranto petition filed by Calida a month ago.
READ: ABS-CBN says sorry to Duterte, pays ad refundREAD: Duterte: No time to watch ABS-CBN probe
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