NTC supports proposed measure on non-expiration of franchise pending renewal

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has expressed support on a proposed measure seeking the non-expiration of franchises with renewal applications pending in Congress.

Senate Bill Number 1530 filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon aims to include franchise in Book 7 Chapter 3 Section 18 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines which states that an existing license of a licensee who has made a timely and sufficient renewal application shall not expire until the application has been finally determined.

During the Committee hearing on Thursday (May 27), the NTC said the measure will fill in the gap in the law, noting that it is following Republic Act 3846 or the ‘Radio Control Law’ which provides that no person or firm can operate a radio station without having first obtained a congressional franchise.

“Malaking bagay po ito para po ma-fix ang gap sa batas para po kapag may pending matters ay ito po ay mai-consider na buhay pa [This will help fill the gap in the law to consider a franchise as valid while matters are pending],” explained NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

However, the Commission said that it never issued provisional franchises to stations with expired franchises but with pending renewal applications in Congress and just allowed them to continue operating.

Cordoba said what makes the case of ABS-CBN different from others that they had to issue a cease and desist order, was the quo warranto petition filed against the media giant.

He added that they have issued such orders before but only to radio stations who illegally operated during the 2019 elections.

“The difference from those instances on the ABS-CBN issue is that (with) ABS-CBN, a case for quo warranto was actually filed by the solicitor general. Kaya po medyo naging [That’s why it became] untenable on our part to let it continue because of the clear letter of the law in the Republic Act 3846,” Cordoba said.

However, Senator Drilon believes there has been an inconsistency on the part of the NTC in exercising its power in issuing cease and desist orders.

“At the very least, it appears that there is an inconsistency in exercising power (inaudible) in equal protection of the law,” the Senate Minority leader said.

“This is precisely a remedial legislation that we have introduced so that this kind of gap can be addressed,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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