Hontiveros hits Calida for ‘misplaced priorities', supports ABS-CBN's provisional permit

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The recent move of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) prohibiting the National Telecommunications Commision (NTC) to issue a temporary / provitional authority to operate was criticized by many lawmakers.

According to opposition senator Risa Hontiveros in her social media post, said that the OSG should re-evaluate its priorities amid the health crisis our country is facing due to pandemic COVID-19.

"It is questionable why the government's chief counsel insists on shutting down a broadcast network in the middle of a health emergency and depriving the public of a critical means to receive timely and accurate information." Hontiveros said in her Twitter post.

Hontiveros denounced Solicitor General Jose Calida’s warning to the NTC against issuing ABS-CBN network a provisional permit while waiting for Congress to renew its franchise.

“The OSG has misplaced priorities and should just focus its energies on supporting government efforts amid the pandemic,” Hontiveros tweeted.

The SolGen has warned the NTC that if they grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN, He said such provisional permit can only be issued once a congressional permission is granted.

Calida stressed that only Congress can grant franchises to public utilities, including broadcasting companies, for them to operate in the country.

"Although this legislative power may be delegated to administrative agencies through a law, at present, there is no such law giving the NTC or any other agency the power to grant franchises to broadcasting entities," Calida said.

However, Hontiveros came in to defend the embattled media giant amid attempts of the OSG to block its franchise renewal. The license of the network giant  is set to expire on May 4.

She said the NTC can allow ABS-CBN to continue to operate while Congress deliberates on the franchise renewal.

“I stand with my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives that nothing should prevent the National Telecommunications Commission from issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries while the renewal of its franchise is pending in Congress,” she said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Monday that ABS-CBN can still operate while its franchise renewal is ongoing in Congress.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) stands by its position that there is sufficient equitable basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of their franchise remain pending with Congress," Guevarra said in an interview.

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