Did ABS-CBN ‘voluntarily close’ despite NTC cease-and-desist order? This solon claims so.

June 1, 2020 - 8:40 PM
Rodante Marcoleta in HOR
Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip Party-list) bangs a gavel in the Batasang Pambansa Complex in this photo uploaded on Sept. 23, 2019. (Photo from SAGIP Partylist via Facebook).

House Deputy Speaker Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip Party-list) falsely claimed that media giant ABS-CBN “voluntarily closed” itself as the lower chamber resumed its hearings into the network’s franchise on Monday.

During the House hearing, Marcoleta, failed to recall the network’s broadcasting operations shut down due to a cease-and-desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission.

“No one forced ABS-CBN to shut down; the network closed ‘voluntarily,'” he was quoted as saying in the hearings.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchise resumed the hearing into several bills filed on ABS-CBN’s franchise and supposed violations of the law. It was a joint hearing with the House Committee on good government and public accountability.

Among the those who attended the House hearing include ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak,as well as Solicitor General Jose Calida who has previously skipped both the Senate and the House of Representatives’ legislative inquiries in the past weeks.

Katigbak answered questions on the constitutionality of the network’s operations which included allegations issued by Marcoleta during the previous hearing.

Marcoleta’s new claims, meanwhile, earned him another round of criticisms from Filipinos who recalled that the network ceased its broadcasting operations because of a cease-and-desist order and not in a “voluntary” manner.

Veteran journalist Philip Lustre Jr. said that the congressman was “spreading fake news” and added that the former needed to “update himself.”

Other online users shared the same sentiments and accused Marcoleta of sharing false information in the middle of a congressional hearing.

Another Filipino pointed out that a company would not “voluntarily” shut down its operations if it means cutting off people’s livelihood or their sources of income.

“ABS-CBN was forced to shutdown because of the expiration of their franchise, why would ABS-CBN close voluntarily if they know that they have people to serve and employees that (are) working hard for their family. #IbalikAngABSCBN,” he said.

RELATED: Non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise seen to affect jobs of thousands of employees

The particular hashtag, which trended on the same day when Marcoleta renewed previous allegations against the network in last week’s hearing, also reached local Twitter’s top trending list on Monday.

RELATED: ‘How about GMA?’: Arguments raised as solon hurls old accusations vs ABS-CBN in House hearing

Authorities involved 

NTC, an agency responsible for supervising telecommunication services in the country, slapped ABS-CBN with a cease-and-desist order on May 5. It stated that the network should cease its television and radio broadcasting operations due to its franchise expiration.

The network’s previous 25-year legislative franchise granted on March 30, 1995 through Republic Act 7966 expired on May 4.

Under the 1987 Constitution, radio and television networks must seek a legislative franchise allowing them to operate on a certain period since the government “owns the airwaves in the atmosphere” within Philippine territory.

Calida, the government’s top lawyer, previously warned NTC that it might face graft charges if it granted ABS-CBN a provisional authority allowing them to operate beyond its expiration.

A provisional authority allows the broadcast giant to operate while its bills for franchise renewal remains pending in the Congress.

For ABS-CBN to have a new legislative franchise, it must first pass readings in the lower and upper chambers and then gain the president’s signature.

However, more than 10 bills on its renewal have previously languished before the House of Representatives, whose speaker initially blamed NTC for supposedly “ambushing” the legislative body.