SC nixes Gadon’s bid to stop ABS-CBN provisional permit for lack of legal standing
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by lawyer Lorenzo ‘Larry’ Gadon who sought to stop the National Telecommunications Commission from issuing a provisional authority to operate to television giant ABS-CBN Corp.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak, claimed that the high court voted unanimously to dismiss Gadon’s petition.
The SC, the source continued, junked Gadon’s bid for lack of legal standing.
Gadon asked the SC to stop the House of Representative from authorizing the NTC to issue a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN after its franchise expired last May 4.
At the same time, Gadon, who became ‘famous’ for initiating the impeachment complaint against ousted chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order while his petition is pending resolution.
Gadon explained that the NTC has no authority to issue a provisional permit to ABS-CBN inasmuch as its original mandate was “merely regulatory and supervisory.”
He pointed out that the authorizations the NTC can only issue are “in addition to the required congressional franchise,” citing a February 2003 high court decision as his basis.
“The application for Certificates of Public Convenience with the NTC comes after securing a franchise from Congress. The NTC cannot issue a CPC unless there is a valid franchise,” the petition read in part.
Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Franz Alvarez directed the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN Corporation, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., Sky Cable Corporation, and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc. “to operate effective May 4, 2020 until such time that Congress has made a decision on their application.”
But Gadon explained that the congressional authority to NTC was violative of the constitutional provisions on the separation of powers.
“It is only Congress, which can extend ABS-CBN’s franchise. This power cannot be passed on or delegated to an administrative agency, such as NTC, under the Executive branch…This is tantamount to extending the franchise of ABS-CBN, through an undue delegation of power” the petition said.
“If respondents Cayetano and Alvarez wanted to extend, or even renew, the franchise of ABS-CBN, they could have done it by conducting the proper committee hearings and decide, by a majority vote of all the Members of Congress, whether or not to extend, renew, or even grant a new franchise to ABS-CBN. It cannot do so by merely designating NTC to accomplish the ‘extension/provisional’ job for them,” it added.
The ABS-CBN franchise expired last May 4, and bills are pending before the Senate and House of Representatives to have this extended.
On numerous occasions, President Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, accusing the network of biased reporting and riling against its failure to air his political advertisement during the 2016 campaign.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the granting of a franchise to television and radio companies is a power lodged in Congress
International group Human Rights Watch decried President Duterte’s moves blocking the franchise renewal, taking it as a curtailment of press freedom. The group added that lawmakers should remain “independent” from the President’s whims.#