By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
House Deputy Minority Floor Leader Carlos Zarate has urged the National Telecommunications Commission not to bow to the pressure being applied by the Office of the Solicitor General over the issuance of provisional authority to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
Zarate made the remarks after Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday threatened to sue officials of NTC for graft if they decide to grant the Kapamilya network a provisional authority to operate as its current congressional franchise expires on Monday, May 4.
“We again strongly urge the NTC to rise to the challenge and issue the provisional permit to ABS-CBN now even as the House is deliberating the renewal of its franchise,” said Zarate.
Calida believed that NTC cannot grant the Lopez-owned media conglomerate a temporary permit even if House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other congressional leaders wrote the commission to allow the network to operate with an expired franchise.
Zarate said Calida’s pronouncement against NTC “only shows his severe aversion for press freedom as he even timed such a threat on World Press Freedom Day.”
According to Zarate, NTC being the primary regulatory agency, should issue the provisional permit now to the embattled broadcast giant “as it has all the legal and historical grounds to do so.”
“Kowtowing to Calida’s threats means a good bye NTC’s autonomy, a goodbye to press freedom. Then, only the ones who do not question the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the administration will remain, just like the time of the dictator Marcos,” said Zarate.
Zarate stressed that calida “did not even consider that ABS-CBN is very important in the information dissemination and relief operations during this time of the COVID pandemic.”
“Even in the midst of crisis, it appears, continued political vendetta against the network is still primordial to the OSG,” said Zarate.