Cayetano’s defense on the ABS-CBN franchise mess

When the ABS-CBN franchise renewal issue broke out, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano went missing for several days. Many waited for him to break his silence and be man enough to own the mess.

Unfortunately, he was just consistent. Instead of owning the mess, he pointed his fingers to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) who, he said, did not stand by its promise of giving ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate and succumb to the pressure of the Solicitor General. But, who really is at fault here?

The NTC, whether or not it succumbed to be pressured by the Solicitor General, is just doing its mandate. Assuming it allowed other broadcast industries and telecommunication companies to operate beyond the validity of their franchises, the act is only a precedent and cannot be considered as a law. While Cayetano and ABS-CBN can cite that, the act is not binding. In simple terms, NTC may have been at fault before but it could always claim that the administration is just righting the wrong.

This can also be the line of defense of President Rodrigo Duterte who, because of the chains of command, is the titular head of the NTC. Morally and politically, though, he is and can be made accountable. The same with the Solicitor General (SolGen) who allegedly pressured the NTC.

Congress, on the other hand, particularly the House of Representatives, is at loss here. In the first place, it sat on the franchise issue since 2014. Assuming that it was so busy with other legislative measures, how come the Speaker still has lots of time to perform what is supposedly the function of the executive branch — managing the Southeast Asian Games? The claim that the NTC promised the House of Representatives during a legislative hearing holds no ground because the latter did not even issue a resolution requesting the Commission a provisional authority for ABS-CBN to operate. Besides, will the Speaker and the House of Representatives stand in the defense of the NTC should the SolGen pursue his legal threats?

Below is the defense of the Speaker on the mess his chamber and the whole Congress is into.

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