MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said on Monday it did not intend to cause any "confusion" when it issued a shutdown order against ABS-CBN without informing Congress.
The NTC extended its "utmost regrets" for its failure to inform Congress of its inability to issue a provisional authority as it had earlier promised, as well as its cease-and-desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said in a joint House committee hearing.
Under the law, Congress is the sole authority that can grant franchises.
"We realize that the commission would have exercised prudence under the circumstances, at the very least, alerted Congress of our inability based on legal grounds to issue a provisional authority as well as furnish it a copy of cease and desist order (CDO) when the franchise of ABS-CBN expired," Cordoba said.
"Even as NTC has extended its utmost regrets to Congress for such failure to give advanced notice. I would like, in behalf of the Commission, to reiterate our sincere apologies for the confusion this has caused, not the least because we are in a midst of crisis," he added.
The NTC on May 5 issued a CDO against ABS-CBN a day after its franchise expired on May 4. The network's TV and radio channels nationwide went off-air shortly after in compliance with the order.
The shutdown order came despite NTC's earlier pronouncement, under oath, that it would grant the network a provisional franchise while several franchise renewal bills were pending, and despite the Senate and House of Representative's support for the issuance of a provisional franchise.
Cordoba said issuing a provisional franchise encroaches on Congress' domain in addition to the "insurmountable constitutional and legal obstacles," resulting in its "inability" to act on the matter.
ABS-CBN has filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the NTC's shutdown order. The NTC, however, on May 26, urged the Supreme Court to deny ABS-CBN Corp.'s petition for a TRO against the CDO it issued early this month.
Cordoba said the commission's actions were in line with its mandate and should not be given any color.
"It was not our intention to inconvenience Congress and certainly we intended no disrespect... Sana po, sa aming pagpapatupad ng aming trabaho ay 'wag mabigyan ng ano mang kulay," he said.
Although NTC representatives were present during the House hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise, Cordoba said they would refrain from discussing issues related to the cases filed at the Supreme Court and the NTC.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN claiming violations of its franchise, including the supposed US citizenship of Gabby Lopez, the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners, and the network's pay-per-view offering in its TVPlus.
Officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, NTC--in a Senate inquiry last February--cleared ABS-CBN of these alleged violations.
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