Palace is right: Congress was remiss

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    IN the ongoing controversy about the closure of TV giant ABS-CBN, every major player seems to follow the law: the Solicitor General, Malacañang, the Senate, the Department of Justice, the National Telecommunications Commission, and even ABS-CBN itself, for they voluntarily closed shop following the NTC’s cease and desist order.

    … if the House can pass a resolution requesting the NTC to give a provisional authority to broadcast to ABS-CBN, why then it could not pass a law to grant the franchise?’

    Those who defy the law — PH jurisprudence and legal statutes, the law of logic, and the law of good taste — are the self-proclaimed defenders of ABS-CBN who mostly profit from their past and present association with the network: the unlamented Left, including the KMU, Bayan, Gabriela, National Union of Lawyers etc.; senators with personal interests leaning towards the network; clueless netizens including paid trolls; the Catholic Church in the Philippines;  propagandists and professional PR practitioners; paid members of the House of Representatives (paid by the people, of course, as in salaried public servants); Teddy Boy Locsin; Korina Sanchez; Coco Martin; Angel Locsin; and similarly situated “celebrities.”

    In the days before the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Committee on Legislative Franchises chairman Rep. Franz Alvarez hemmed and hawed on whether to take up the ABS-CBN franchise renewal at the committee level. This, despite the strong advocacies of Reps. Lito Atienza, Sol Aragones and Rufus Rodriguez that the House should do its job.

    Now it looks like the NTC was merely doing its job when it issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, and even congressmen and network supporters had to admit, mindful that the franchise had indeed expired.

    With the expiration of the ABS-CBN franchise, there is nothing to renew, and another application from the media giant is in order. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court can well dismiss the case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, for the High Tribunal only passes judgment on opportune cases, not those that have expired.

    In the din and chaos that have happened, the nation got some reprieve in its sadness and frustration of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, which of latest count has ravaged the health of some 10,000 Filipinos and caused the deaths of 658 patients. Also in the chaotic din, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was mostly silent and unavailable, perhaps ruing that this should not have happened, but it did.

    Malacañang, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque, is sad that it came to this, but President Duterte can no longer help the network even if he desires to do so. It was the task of Congress to vet the applicant and approve the franchise, send it to the Senate for a vote, and then to the Palace for the President’s signature. This never happened.

    Roque noted, quoting Duterte, that if the House can pass a resolution requesting the NTC to give a provisional authority to broadcast to ABS-CBN, why then it could not pass a law to grant the franchise? Incidentally, this ABS-CBN franchise had been by-passed by three Congresses already, and they waited for a pandemic to ask the legislators to “hurry up!”

    By the way, we have to give it to the media network when it comes to ramping up sympathy for itself.

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