Thirteen senators filed a resolution asking the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reassess its decision on shutting down ABS-CBN due to franchise expiration.

The senators aimed to reverse the NTC’s cease and desist order over the broadcast giant and its affiliates, and grant them permission to operate while its franchise renewal application is currently pending in Congress.

The senators who signed the resolution were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Leila De Lima, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, and Joel Villanueva.

According to the resolution, “there is precedent for entities whose franchises have expired to be allowed to continue to operate, pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress.”

“The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Broadcast franchise expired on August 4, 2017 and was only renewed on April 22, 2019… Globe Innove’s franchise expired on April 10, 2017 and was only renewed on December 14, 2018. PT&T’s franchise expired in November 2015 and was only renewed on July 21, 2016,” it added.

The senators also countered the NTC’s decision by mentioning the latter’s Memorandum Order 03-03-2020, which states that all existing NTC-issued permits, certificates, and licenses expiring during the enhanced community quarantine shall be valid 60 days after the end of the government-imposed confinement measure.

“This suggests that there is enough basis in policy and in practice to allow ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries and/or affiliates to continue their operations pending the renewal of their respective franchises,” the resolution explained.

The cease and desist order also forced at least 11,000 workers of the media giant to go jobless while in the middle of the pandemic.

On May 5, ABS-CBN was forced to go off air after the NTC released a cease and desist order against the network. It was revealed that the Office of the Solicitor General warned the commission for possible graft charges if they grant ABS-CBN and its affiliates a provisional authority to operate after their 25-year franchise lapsed on May 4.

Meanwhile, despite previous threats from President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the franchise renewal of the media giant, the Palace said it will not influence the future decision of Congress regarding the issue. (RJ Espartinez)