MIPC wants Congress to act on ABS-CBN applicationPosted on
DAVAO CITY — The Mindanao Independent Press Council Inc. (MIPC) is asking the House of Representatives to act on the application for franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, May 6, the press council which is composed of journalists from all over Mindanao said, the Congress should act on the application as it already promised in March.
The MIPC statement reads:
“The Mindanao Independent Press Council expresses its apprehension over the May 5 cease and desist order of the NationalTelecommunications Communications against broadcast network ABS-CBN.
NTC’s action is completely inimical to the 11,000 plus workers of ABS-CBN, coming as it did as the country is still grappling from the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
While we understand that the network’s franchise is under scrutiny, we believe that standing legal and administrative issues should be best left to the courts and to Congress, which has a final say on legislative franchises. And this is where our apprehensions come in. Foremost, Congress has already put an imprimatur on the provisional authority for ABS-CBN’s franchise while its application is being heard.
In March, both the Lower House franchise committee and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano himself conveyed in writing the intention of the legislative branch to allow ABS-CBN to operate while its application remains pending.
This was further bolstered by a Senate resolution in the same month. Likewise, Senate President Vicente Sotto pointed out that the issuance of provisional authority has precedence.
Moreover, even the NTC Commissioners assured Congress–under oath– that a provisional authority would be given to ABS-CBN. We are, therefore, alarmed with the abrupt NTC decision to shut down ABS-CBN, a media institution that has loomed large on the life of the Filipinos for over half a century.
We also take exception with the fact that the decision came even as the NTC, in its March 16 memorandum, extended the expiring permits to operate and maintain broadcast and pay-TV facilities for 60 days from the end of the quarantine period.
But beyond the legal questions, the shutdown of ABS-CBN reeks of grave abuse of discretion by NTC and the Solicitor General whose hands are all over this widely-assailed decision.
We are therefore calling on Congress to immediately remedy the situation by approving ABS-CBN’s application renewal with due haste, and for NTC to issue a temporary permit while the matter is being tackled by our legislators–as earlier promised.
Any delay would be taken as a deliberate muzzling of a vital member of the press, and an assault on the Constitutional right to free speech and of the freedom of the press. Time is of the essence. The public needs a vibrant press and one less vital medium would be a disservice to all Filipinos who should be provided with all the important information at this time of national crisis.”