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Solicitor General Calida: Congress to Blame, Not NTC

Calida and the NTC have been the subjects of much criticism.
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In a statement, Solicitor General Jose. C. Calida defended the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) cease and desist order addressed to ABS-CBN, saying that NTC only implements Congressional decisions or lack thereof.

“Why blame NTC when they are only following the law? Without a valid or subsisting franchise from Congress, the NTC cannot allow any broadcasting entity from operating in the country,” defended Calida.

“The bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise has been pending in Congress since 2016. The question we should be asking is, why hasn’t Congress acted on it? Who is at fault here?”

However, Congress requested that NTC allow ABS-CBN to continue its operations on a provisional authority while Congress continues to deliberate over the franchise renewal. NTC previously agreed to this, despite Calida’s warnings against it.

After ABS-CBN’s shutdown, Calida lauded NTC for acting “in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. Nobody is sacred. Even a powerful and influential corporation must follow the law.”

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Calida and NTC have been under fire for ordering the shutdown of ABS-CBN, which has occupied every other news network despite its channel going off the air. Debates have been growing online as to who is to blame for the situation, with the name “Cayetano” being the top trending topic on Twitter all day, the subject of much online criticism.

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Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are openly criticizing House speaker Alan Cayetano for dragging his feet on the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

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“I would like to apologize for the failure of Congress to do its job. Kasalanan namin ito eh. Kasalanan ng Kongreso ito,” said Buhay Representative Lito Atienza on ANC. “But more important, I’d like to say, squarely, kasalanan ni Speaker Cayetano ito. Pagkukulang niya ito sa bayan.

“He (Cayetano) will have a lot to explain one day. It may not be today, but later on, this issue will hound him because he was the one who did not do his job. Even the President kept on reminding him to do your job, magtrabaho kayo, aksyunan ‘nyo ‘yan (work on it, act on it already). What did we do? Nothing,” continued Atienza.

Meanwhile, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman slammed Cayetano’s slow actions.

“The National Telecommunication Commission must not be used as the scapegoat for the patent failure of the leadership of the House of Representatives to resolutely push for the seasonable renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise,” Lagman said. “I have repeatedly warned that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s proffered solution for NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate, despite the lapse of its franchise, is against the law and jurisprudence.”

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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