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NTC seeks SolGen’s advice on shutting down Sky Cable: Cordoba promises Congress he will kill ABS-CBN’s last remaining broadcast point

National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba has promised, under the threat of censure from House leaders, to take down ABS-CBN Corp.’s last standing, broadcasting point – Sky Cable.

This was revealed by Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta who said Cordoba has asked more time to craft its legal strategy against the Lopez media group with the guidance of Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Marcoleta revealed that Congress was far from satisfied with the ABS-CBN’s exit from two major platforms – Channels 2 and 23 frequencies and digital broadcast through its TV Plus – and that it was gunning to pull the plug on cable TV (which would leave ABS-CBN programs accessible only through the internet).

Marcoleta said NTC should have stopped Sky Cable, which is also owned by the Lopezes, from operating as soon as its franchise lapsed in March 2020.

Cordoba, however, explained during the House committee hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, that such a move would have legal complications because all cable operators in the country were allowed to operate without a franchise.

Cordoba said Sky Cable could operate by virtue of Executive Order 205 issued by then president Cory Aquino in 1987 which allowed cable TV operators to run without the need of a franchise.

But Marcoleta was unfazed and threatened Cordoba that the House would cite him for contempt if he insisted on EO 205’s validity.

“Yung EO ni Mrs. Aquino ang ipinipilit na authority. Sabi ko sa NTC pagaralan at tatamaan ka uli, may resolution kami (citing Cordoba for contempt). ‘Di ka pa kako pasado dito. ‘Pag ‘di mo tiningnan EO 205, alanganin ka pa dito. Kailangan isara ang one, last service na Sky Cable,” said Marcoleta.

Marcoleta argue that EO 205, which was issued before the 1987 Constitution, has become “inconsistent” when the First Congress convened in July 1987.

When Cordoba said NTC could not act on the matter because the Supreme Court has yet to make a ruling on the validity of EO 205, Marcoleta suggested that NTC take the initiative to make it a justiciable case.

“Eh ‘di isara mo (Sky Cable), para magdedemanda ang ABS-CBN, makakarating sa SC. Iyon lang ang paraan para the SC will review that EO,” said Marcoleta.

Marcoleta revealed that Cordoba pleaded to give him more time to finalize his legal action with the help of Calida.

“Nakikiusap si Corodoba na kung pwede, ‘wag muna daw banatan, sabihin kay Cong Mike (Defensor), Cong Boying (Remulla), hinay-hinay muna po, makikipagusap daw muna siya kay SolGen,” said Marcoleta.

NTC, on the advice of Calida, had initially issued a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting on Channels 2 and 23 and radio stations DZMM 630 and MOR 101.9 on May 5, a day after its franchise expired.

It was Congress which pressured NTC to issue a second CDO against ABS-CBN to stop it from broadcasting its news and entertainment programs on Sky Cable’s wireless or or satellite broadcast and TV Plus on June 30.

With only Sky Cable and the internet left for its programs, ABS-CBN announced it would lay off thousands of its workers by August 31.

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