“The Constitution requires a prior franchise from Congress before a broadcasting entity can operate in this country. Absent a renewal, the franchise expires by operation of law. The franchise ceases to exist and the entity can no longer continue its operations as a public utility,” Calida said. Over the weekend, Calida has warned NTC commissioners that they could face Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act charges if they allow ABS-CBN to operate with a provisional authority. “Why blame NTC when they are only following the law,” Calida said. “Without a valid and subsisting franchise from Congress, the NTC cannot allow any broadcasting entity from operating in the country.” “The bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise has been pending in Congress since 2016,” he added. “The question we should be asking is, why hasn’t Congress acted on it? Who is at fault here?” MANILA – Congress should be the one to be blamed for ABS-CBN Corp.’s failure to renew its 25-year franchise that expired earlier this week, according Solicitor General Jose Calida. Calida added the NTC just followed the Constitution, which stated that broadcast companies cannot be allowed to operate without a franchise. “The exercise by the NTC of its regulatory power is in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. Nobody is sacred. Even a powerful and influential corporation must follow the law,” he added. Calida also defended his letter to the NTC warning its commissioner that they could face graft charges if they give ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate beyond May 4 as it was his “duty to advise the NTC of what is legal or not.” Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque backed Calida’s controversial advise to the NTC as it was “in due course of his job” as the Solicitor General. “Tapatan. Hindi po nag-influence si Calida. Sumulat po siya in due course of his job. He is within his perfect right to write,” Roque said in an interview with PTV-4 on Wednesday. In his quo warranto petition, Calida accused the network and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence of various abuses, including illegal pay-per-view offering and foreign ownership. Calida came under fire among netizens and supporters of ABS-CBN after he previously filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court to nullify the network’s franchise, which already expired last Monday. Calida said in a statement the Congress failed to act up on the network’s franchise renewal, which has been pending at the House of Representatives since 2016, that led to National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issuing a cease and desist order. Days after Calida’s letter, the NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN to operate its various television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide. The network responded by signing off on Tuesday evening.