Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto less than a week ago tweeted that the Senate would ‘approve’ ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal if given the opportunity.
“ABS Franchise, bring it to the Senate, we will approve it!” the controversial senator tweeted on that day the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) served the cease and desist order on the Kapamilya Network.
ABS Franchise, bring it to the Senate, we will approve it!
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) May 5, 2020
On Monday however, he, along with his fellow senators abstained from voting on the Senate’s newly passed Senate Resolution No. 395 to reverse the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order on ABS-CBN and its affiliates.
Most senators took the NTC’s shutdown order against ABS-CBN’s franchise on May 5 under suspicion, citing precedence and the quasi-judicial body’s “liberality” in issuing franchise extension.
The media giant without hesitation looked to the Supreme Court (SC) for immediate relief through a temporary restraining order which was just raffled off to a justice on Monday, May 11.
The nine senators who abstained are the following:
- Senate President Vicente Sotto III
- Senator Panfilo Lacson
- Senator Francis Tolentino
- Senator Cynthia Villar
- Senator Imee Marcos
- Senator Ronald dela Rosa
- Senator Bong Go
- Senator Bong Revilla
- Senator Pia Cayetano
Cayetano, on the other hand, decided she would “refrain from making comments” while the complaint still has a pending status at the High Court. She was also one of the senators who originally signed the resolution and says that the SC and lower chamber will be handling the issue.
The resolution is in line with the Senate’s opinion that the media giant be allowed continuous operations even when its franchise is still pending.
The House panel on legislative franchises issued a show cause order against NTC, emphasizing why it should not be held in contempt.
Just two days after the shutdown, the media giant asked the SC to junk the order saying the NTC has violated the network’s equal protection of the law and right to due process.
The NTC acted with grave abuse of discretion and in opposition to its commitment last February 24 in a hearing at the House of Representatives that they will provide provisional authority to ABS-CBN.
BREAKING: ABS-CBN asks Supreme Court for TRO to stop implementation of NTC’s cease and desist order pic.twitter.com/OaRXuokUpR
— Mike Navallo (@mikenavallo) May 7, 2020
“May I assure this committee that barring a gross violation of its franchise of the NTC rules and regulations, the NTC will follow the latest advice of the DOJ and let ABS-CBN continue operations based on equity,” NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said while under oath.
Solicitor General Jose Calida previously said that the NTC’s commissioners could possibly be subjected to prosecution if they grant ABS-CBN provisional authorities with the absence of a legislative franchise.
ABS-CBN’s petition argues that the order violates the right of the public for information and curtailed freedom of speech, along with the serious damage it implicates to thousands of employees of the network.