Zubiri lauds ARTA’s efforts, jurisdiction over quasi-judicial bodies

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THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) was lauded recently by Senate President Miguel Zubiri, particularly in its efforts to help the country boost its competitiveness by streamlining government’s processes.

Zubiri cited the recent ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) that recognized ARTA’s jurisdiction over all government agencies that perform quasi-judicial and legislative functions. He said during the recent Philippine Franchise Association event that the CA ruling “is a victory not only for ARTA but for the law.”

In July 2022, it was reported that the Special Eighth Division of the CA resolved ARTA’s powers over the quasi-judicial functions of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), one agency that did not recognize ARTA’s jurisdiction. This concerns the case of News and Entertainment Network Corporation (NEWSNET, an affiliate of PSE-listed NOW Corp.) versus the NTC.

 The CA division resolved that the automatic approval granting NEWSNET the 26 GHz frequency based on ARTA’s decision during former ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica’s tenure was unappealable and irreversible, despite the decision by the current ARTA OIC that reversed ARTA’s previous decision made during Belgica’s time.

The said CA decision has profound significance in the delivery of much-needed Internet and Pay TV services to the public as Newsnet intends to expand nationwide using cutting-edge technologies. 

The same CA decision states that regardless of the fact that said frequencies are now considered 5G (fifth generation) by the International Telecommunications Union, Newsnet maintains rights over it.

And I’m confident that the legal victory such as this, we are setting a good precedent for similar cases in the future. And we are sending strong message to all government agencies to listen to ARTA, follow ARTA’s directives. In this way you, we can effectively serve our people and promote the Ease of Doing Business,” he added.

The Senate President also expressed his recognition of Belgica, who he said, “has been under pressure but I salute him for doing his job well.”

The ARTA was under the leadership of Belgica from 2018 to 2022 until his 6-month preventive suspension ordered by the Ombudsman in May this year.

The reforms of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 has shaken up many government agencies that based their actions on discretionary means. The ARTA law forcefully stopped that common practice.

ARTA’s four-year sterling performance under Belgica and recently affirmed by the CA in so far as ARTA’s powers over quasi-judicial bodies, Senate President Zubiri says, “I hope with this ruling, … [we] will all feel empowered to pursue bigger, bolder ventures, trusting that the law and ARTA will have your back.”

The Special Eleventh Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) on August 16, 2022 resolved to reverse and set aside the termination of provisional authority and the cease-and-desist order (CDO) issued by NTC against Newsnet.

The provisional authority of petitioner [Newsnet] to operate and maintain 25.35 to 26.35 GHz spectrum Local MultiPoint Distribution System (LMDS) to deliver interactive pay television and multi-media services in Metro Manila is reinstated and shall continue to be effective unless sooner suspended, cancelled or revoked in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” the CA decision said.

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