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It was Congress which murdered ABS-CBN’s franchise, the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order is just the death certificate.

This is one of the arguments raised by the NTC in opposing ABS CBN’s plea with the Supreme Court to stop NTC’s CDO and allow it to get back on air.

“Congress exercised its constitutional mandate and elected not to approve any bill seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise before its expiration. Despite the numerous bills filed before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, Congress allowed petitioner’s franchise to expire on May 4, 2020. Indeed, it was Congress which decided the fate of the petitioner’s franchise allowing it to ‘die a natural death’,” said NTC in its 157-page petition prepared by the Office of the Solicitor General.

“The failure by Congress to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise upon its expiration is what prompted the NTC to issue the questioned CDO…Issuing a PA (provisional authority) without legislative franchise would have amounted to an encroachment into the exclusive domain of Congress, as its licensing power may only arise from the necessary delegation of power from the Congress through a law,” it added.

NTC said ABS-CBN felt entitled to a PA by putting its fate entirely on a worthless, February 26 letter by the House franchise committee enjoining NTC to allowing ABS-CBN to operate until the House has made a decision on its application.

NTC said the franchise committee consists of only 46 members, and even if Speaker Alan Cayetano was included, this is way below the House majority.

NTC also noted that ABS-CBN banked on Senate Resolution No. 40 to remain on air. It said this as “misplaced” because the resolution was just a piece of paper with no “force of law” to issue a PA.

“The best evidence of the Congress’ legislative will to grant ABS CBN with any authority to operate a television and radio broadcasting station after the expiration of its legislative franchise is a law granting ABS-CBN a new franchise. Therefore, ABS-CBN’s allegations that Congress intended for it to operate beyond the term of its franchise should be treated as nothing but hopeful hypotheses,” NTC said.

NTC cautioned magistrates against allowing ABS-CBN to use the High Court as “a forum to appeal political and policy choices made by Malacanang, Congress and other constitutional agencies.

“This Honorable Court dilutes its role in a democracy if it is asked to substitute its political wisdom for the wisdom of accountable and representative bodies where there is no unmistakable democratic deficit.,” said NTC.

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