Sep 24, 2020 @ 13:18

No interest: SC junks lawyer’s petition to stop NTC from withdrawing ABS-CBN frequencies

The Supreme Court (SC) has thrown out yet another case connected to ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise issue, this time dismissing outright a petition by abogado Paris Real to prevent the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from withdrawing its frequencies.

In a 5-page minute resolution dated June 30 but released recently, the SC en banc said Real failed to establish that he had the required personal and substantial interest in ABS-CBN’s case.

“He did not sustain any direct injury or is in danger [sic] of suffering any damages from the assailed actions of the House of Representatives, the NTC and the OSG (Office of the Solicitor-General),” read the minute resolution signed by En Banc Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta.

The SC added that ABS-CBN had “a more direct and specific interest in the questions raised in the petition.” It noted that the company’s own petition against the NTC was pending at the time.

“The Court should prevent any person who does not have the proper legal standing from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he disagreed with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service,” the minute resolution read.

Besides assailing the NTC order, Paris asked the SC to compel the House to conduct the proceedings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application. At the time, the House had dragged its feet on the matter and allowed the franchise to lapse, supposedly believing that the NTC would issue a provisional authority.

Real also sought declaratory relief to answer the questions of whether it would be constitutional for Congress to approve a provisional franchise within “its first and second readings on the same day,” and renew or extend a “lapsed or expired” franchise.

He also asked the SC if the OSG had the power to warn the NTC commissioners and other quasi-judicial agencies with any suit to persuade them to favor its legal positions.

The NTC ordered ABS-CBN to cease and desist from its free-to-air television and radio operations on May 5, a day after the lapse of its franchise.

The House committee on legislative franchises on July 10 voted 70-11 to deny ABS-CBN’s application for the renewal of its franchises after several hearings in which representatives aired their personal gripes against the company and disregarded the testimonies of government agencies regarding its compliance with the law.

The SC on August 25 dismissed ABS-CBN’s petition questioning the NTC’s cease and desist order, citing that the case had become moot and academic because of the House committee’s controversial vote.

The NTC finally recalled ABS-CBN’s frequencies on September 9.

The loss of ABS-CBN’s core business forced it to shift to a smaller audience on cable and online and lay off thousands of workers amid an economic recession caused by the government’s bungled response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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