Broadcast network giant ABS-CBN went off air Tuesday night, May 6 in accordance with the cease-and-desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) after its legislative franchise expired on May 4. Around 11,000 workers were affected by the network’s shutdown. According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the displaced workers may be included in the financial relief program for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as avail a two-month assistance.

“Dahil itong pangyayari naman po ay nawalan sila ng trabaho nang hindi naman nila ninais, hindi naman sila nag-resign, hindi naman voluntarily shutdown ang ABS-CBN, baka maipasok po natin sila doon sa programa ng SMEs para makakuha po sila ng panandaliang dalawang buwan na ayuda,” says Roque.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the P50.8-billion subsidy program for some 1.5 million SMEs and their 3.4 million employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The economic team has also crafted an assistance program for middle-income workers. Beneficiaries will receive subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 for two months, similar to the P200 billion subsidy program for 18 million low-income households.

Roque says the President cannot reverse the decision of NTC to shut down ABS-CBN as he does not possess “appellate jurisdiction” and that all rulings are “made in a quasi-judicial capacity.” He adds that any intervention by the President can be subject to graft and a violation of the code of ethics for government employees. However, former senator and now Sorsogon governor Francis Escudero says that the President can in fact overturn NTC’s decision as the commission is under the Office of the President (OP).

“PRRD (Duterte) can reverse the order of the NTC, being under the OP. This is not the time to deprive people with information. That the CDO (cease-and-desist order) was issued without due process (notice and hearing) negates the position that it is quasi-judicial,” says Escudero, noting that whether or not to issue a provincial permit is administrative, even ministerial in nature.

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