Senators adopt resolution telling NTC to revoke ABS-CBN shutdown order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) – Senators on Monday signed a resolution asking the National Telecommunications Commission to revoke its shutdown order on ABS-CBN, citing the need to provide access to news and save the jobs of thousands of workers.

Twelve senators signed Senate Resolution 395 which urged the regulator to "reconsider its cease and desist order against ABS-CBN" and allow its continuous operation pending action on bills granting a fresh 25-year franchise to the network.

The Lopez-owned network is needed "now more than ever" as a source of free, up-to-date news in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to preserve the jobs of thousands of workers amid a "looming recession" as millions of Filipinos follow strict stay-at-home rules.

Those who signed the resolution were Senators Risa Hontiveros, Franklin Drilon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ralph Recto, Kiko Pangilinan, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Nancy Binay, Lito Lapid, Sherwin Gatchalian, Manny Pacquiao, and Leila De Lima. Nine senators abstained, including Sen. Pia Cayetano, the sister of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. She earlier signed the resolution but took it back.

"There is precedent for entities whose franchises have expired to be allowed to continue to operate pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress," the senators said, citing similar cases involving the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' broadcast arm, Globe Innove, and telecommunications firm PT&T.

RELATED: ABS-CBN can continue operations as NTC's closure order is 'illegal, void' – Ex-DICT chief

The NTC also had sufficient grounds to allow the Kapamilya network to stay on the air, the senators said, citing the agency's Memorandum Order 03-03-2020 which grants a 60-day extension for all expiring permits, certificates, and licenses during the enhanced community quarantine period.

"This suggests that there is enough basis in policy and in practice to allow ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries and/or affiliates to continue their operations pending the renewal of their respective franchises," the resolution read.

The Senate earlier passed a resolution formally asking the NTC to issue a provisional authority for the TV network to continue operating despite the expiration of its franchise last May 4. NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba pledged in March that the regulator will issue that authority to ensure uninterrupted operations of the network despite the lapsed franchise.

RELATED: House panel to NTC: Explain why you shouldn't be held in contempt for ABS-CBN closure order

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.