Press Release
March 9, 2006

Drilon accuses NTC of abusing its authority

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today slammed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for abusing its authority in imposing restrictions on local broadcast media.

"Clearly they (NTC) abused their authority," Drilon said, adding that the agencys primary duty was to traffic airwaves.

Drilon scored the NTC at the start of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights hearing on the implementation of the controversial Presidential Proclamation 1017 issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo Feb. 24 which placed the country under a state of national emergency.

Representatives from ABS-CBN and GMA, the country's two leading broadcast networks, attended the hearing.

Senator Joker Arroyo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said NTC chairman Ronald Solis and Director Gen. Arturo Lomibao, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), failed to attend the proceedings.

Arroyo said his office was informed by Solis and Lomibao that they would be unable to make it to todays investigation into the government crackdown against seditious media groups.

Solis and Lomibao invoked Executive Order 464 banning executive officials from attending Congress hearings without Malacañang clearance.

According to Drilon, the NTC used the resources of the PNP and the military to keep a close watch on the premises of some broadcast networks, including ABS-CBN and GMA.

"NTC abrogated unto itself the powers of the PNP and AFP. They used the PNP's power of the barrel of the gun. This has chilling effects in the industry," the Senate president said.

Drilon said the NTC was powerless to take over or cancel franchises of alleged seditious news organizations.

According to Drilon, since its Congress which grants the franchises of broadcast media, its also Congress which has the authority to cancel such franchises.

The Senate chief said there is no need for NTC to impose prior restraint on media since they have their own code of ethics to effectively guide them in the practice of the profession.

"Imposing restrictions on media clearly stifle freedom of the press in our country, which is known to have one of the freest press in the world," he said.

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