After the dark moments of ABS-CBN last night, Solicitor General Jose Calida was quick to relieve liability. He blamed the Congress for the catastrophe.
“The bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise has been pending in the Congress since 2016. The question we should be asking is, why hasn’t Congress acted on it? Who is at fault here?” Calida told the media.
Calida defended the National Telecommunications Commission is not to blame for this matter. As fortified in a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, the NTC is not authorized to hand out provisional permits. He stressed, that the Congress franchise is the only way ABS-CBN can continue operation.
“The exercise by the NTC of its regulatory power is in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. Nobody is sacred. Even a powerful and influential corporation must follow the law.” Calida stated.
Calida playing devil’s advocate
Currently, Calida stands in opposition to the Senate, Department of Justice and the House Franchise Committee.
The Senate and the House of Representatives, have both taken active steps in requesting the NTC to issue a provisional permit for the ABS-CBN to continue its operations.
He said, “The House of Representatives- Committee on Legislative Franchise Letter dated February 26, 2020 and Senate Resolution No. 34413 both urging the NTC to issue a PA [provisional authority] to ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries or affiliates are erroneous and not binding.”
Despite that these were coming from the legislative arm – the government arm who has authority over broadcast franchises – Calida insisted that “these issuances are cannot amend the current law requiring a congressional franchise for the operation of broadcasting networks.”
The Justice Chief Menardo Guevarra was on the same side as the legislation. He stated that, “The Department of Justice stands by its position that there is sufficient equitable basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for renewal of their franchise remain pending with Congress.”
He added, “In several similar situations in the past, Congress allows the status quo, without urging the NTC to issue a temporary or provisional permit.”
Calida caught under a lie
While the Solicitor General was first to take to public the ‘real’ negligent arm of the government, his paper trails show otherwise.
On May 3, at the eve of the ABS-CBN franchise expiration, Calida threatened supportive agencies. He mentioned that these agencies are likely to face graft and corruption cases.
While more material evidence surfaces with the letter that the OSG sent to the NTC. The letter read, “With an expired franchise and a failure to renew the franchise, the NTC should…with or without hearing, issue a show cause or recall order requiring ABS-CBN Corporation to explain why frequency assigned to it should not be recalled or otherwise forfeited.”
Influencing the shut-down, his office wrote, “At the same time, the NTC should issue a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation from continuing its broadcasting operations.”