Malacañang Palace distances from SC’s handling of ABS-CBN case

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday declined to issue any comment on the way the Supreme Court’s (SC) is handling the issue concerning the expired 25-year legislative franchise of broadcast firm ABS-CBN Corp.

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace would defer to SC’s judgment on the issues hounding ABS-CBN’s franchise that expired on May 4.

“Ang alam ko, wala pang desisyon ang Supreme Court and we should not read anything into that fact. Hinahayaan na po natin ang korte na mag-desisyon diyan (We will let the high court make a decision),” Roque said.

Despite ABS-CBN’s urgent plea to stop the implementation of the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order, SC on Tuesday required the commission to comment on the network’s petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the closure order.

Roque said SC might not be convinced that there is a need to issue TRO against NTC’s order.

“Hindi ko po alam kung (I don’t know) how to react to that,” he said. “Kung wala pong TRO, ibig sabihin, hindi po siguro convinced ang Korte Suprema na hindi kinakailangan ng TRO (If there is no TRO, Supreme Court is perhaps not convinced that there is a need for TRO).”

The television and radio broadcast stations of ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5 after the NTC issued a cease and desist order against the local media giant after its 25-year legislative franchise ended.

NTC’s cease and desist order issued on May 5 states that ABS-CBN needs to halt its broadcast operations nationwide following the expiration of the media network’s franchise.

ABS-CBN on May 7 asked SC to nullify and set aside the NTC’s cease and desist order, claiming that the commission “gravely abused its discretion” when it made the ruling.

It also claimed that NTC’s latest move “violates the right of the public to information and curtail freedom of speech, as well as cause serious and irreparable damage on ABS-CBN and thousands of its employees if its implementation is not halted.”

ABS-CBN failed to secure a fresh 25-year legislative franchise from Congress before May 4, 2020.

However, lawmakers have assured ABS-CBN that they will act on the pending bills seeking the network’s franchise renewal.

Malacañang also said earlier that President Rodrigo Duterte will not veto the franchise bill once it reaches his table and if there is no constitutional infirmity. (PNA)

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos  May 19, 2020