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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Press Statement of Rep. Michael Defensor on the filing of House Resolution 846
08 May 2020 03:10:56 PM

Today we serve fair warning to those public officials who think they can come to the House of the People to lie and deceive with impunity. Know this - we will not stand for it and your actions will have serious consequences. For when you lie to us, you lie to the whole nation. When you try to deceive us, you are deceiving the Filipino people.

To be clear, this is not about the franchise of ABS-CBN, for that is a matter that will be dealt with in due time and in the manner that the House sees fit for the seriousness of the issues being raised.

Nor is this about the freedom of the press, for as we can all see everyone is still free and able to express their views on what is happening in the country.

No, this is simply about people who lied and conspired to deceive, not just Congress, but the entire government - for their own political ends. This is a conspiracy of the lowest and most despicable kind - one that was perpetrated on the nation during a time of crisis when Filipinos are dying and in desperate need of assistance.

As a result this, we are calling on the appropriate House Committees to immediately conduct an investigation and to file criminal cases, as may be warranted, against the commissioners and officers of the National Telecommunications Commission, the Solicitor General, and any such other officials and individuals for perjury and for violations of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, as well as the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, and other applicable laws.

This stems from the orchestrated conduct of the NTC Commissioners and its Officers and the Solicitor General, as they directly subverted the plenary authority of the House of Representatives in its valid exercise of its constitutional authority to grant, deny, extend, revoke or modify broadcast franchises, including having the primary jurisdiction to make an initial determination whether an application for a legislative franchise should be granted or denied.

Such contemptuous and criminal acts utterly disrespect not only the Committee on Legislative Franchises but the entire House of Representatives including the Senate, and such brazen and calculated conduct, reeking of an outright conspiracy, has led to the ambush of the House even taking the Senate by surprise.

This unconstitutional meddling of the Solicitor General resulting in the NTC being unduly influenced and pressured to go against its categorical declarations under oath— supported by the clear legal opinion of the DOJ and the valid exercise of legislative authority by both the House of Representatives and the Senate— is an outright disgrace and an affront to the entire Congress and the DOJ.

Such conduct of the Commissioners and Officers of the NTC and the Solicitor General, other than directly undermining the constitutional prerogative of Congress, has resulted in the cessation of operations of ABS-CBN at a very crucial time of the Enhanced Community Quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic where the dissemination of vital information to the public is paramount in order to keep the public safe and curb the adverse effects of the virus.

Clearly, the actions of the NTC Commissioners and its Officers in conspiracy with the Solicitor General constitutes perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code whereby a “person, who knowingly makes untruthful statements” and “shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.”

The NTC Commissioners and its Officers in conspiracy with the Solicitor General must also be held accountable for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which requires every public official and employee to observe standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties such as “commitment to public interest,” “professionalism,” “justness and sincerity” and that they “refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest.”

Finally and most seriously, the acts of the NTC Commissioners and its Officers in conspiracy with the Solicitor General constitute a violation of Republic Act no. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for “Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter” in a manner that causes “any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.“