Solons slam OSG petition vs ABS-CBN | Inquirer News
‘Unwarranted, misplaced’

Solons slam OSG petition vs ABS-CBN

/ 12:10 PM February 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers on Monday assailed the action of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in filing a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court to forfeit the legislative franchise of media giant ABS-CBN, saying such move smacks of usurpation of the power of Congress.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the principal authors of a House resolution supporting the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, called the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida “unwarranted and misplaced.”

“The quo warranto petition preempts or usurps the sole authority of the Congress to extend or not an existing and expiring franchise like that of ABS-CBN Corporation,” Lagman said in a statement.


Lagman, who is also a lawyer, said the essence of a quo warranto petition is that the “respondent usurps the exercise of a public office, position or franchise to which the respondent is not entitled in the first place.”


“A holder of a valid congressional franchise is not a usurper,” Lagman said.

The lawmaker added that if a valid franchise holder commits violations, they should be “judicially established in separate action alleging such violations, but not in a quo warranto proceeding on usurpation because a valid franchisee is not a usurper.”

Lagman further claimed that the petition should have been filed before the proper Regional Trial Court, and not before the Supreme Court since the High Court “is not a trier of facts and the subject quo warranto petition involves factual questions on the alleged violations.”

Lagman’s sentiments were echoed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who called OSG’s move as an “unconstitutional encroachment” of the exclusive power of Congress to grant franchises.

“We cannot, therefore, stand by and allow this to happen. All congressmen as an institution and the Senate should stand up together and say we have the exclusive power and we are going to exercise it, and therefore there has to be immediately a hearing already of these bills on the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise,” Rodriguez said in a press briefing.

Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said that the petition would be “moot and academic in just a few weeks” since the franchise is also about to expire.


“By the time the Supreme Court sets to resolve the petition after parties have sent in their answers and comments, the current franchise would have already expired and there would be nothing to revoke in the first place,” Fortun said in a statement.

“The petition becomes moot and academic. The franchise, however, expires. Effectively, its renewal is denied,” he added.

Fortun hopes that the quo warranto petition would not be used by the House committee on legislative franchise as a reason to not hear the franchise renewal of the media giant.

“As co-author of the Resolution supporting the renewal of ABS-CBN franchises, I hope the Committee on Legislative Franchises does not use this as a justification not to proceed with hearing of the network’s application for renewal,” Fortun said.

“This is the sad picture I’m seeing: the Committee may not hear the franchise renewal bills saying there’s a pending matter in the Supreme Court related to the validity of ABS-CBN’s current franchise,” he added.

Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, who was a former news reporter of ABS-CBN, said she remained hopeful that there would still be hearings to tackle the media giant’s franchise.

“Talagang positibo pa rin ako at naniniwala na may sapat pang panahon para magkaroon ng hearing, mabigyan ng pagkakataon na busisiin ang mga issue tungkol dito sa renewal ng franchise ng ABS-CBN,” Aragones said.

Republic Act No. 3846 requires television and radio broadcasting companies to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress that will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.

At the House of Representatives, the media giant’s application for franchise renewal has yet to be tackled despite repeated assurances from its leaders that there is still enough time to hear the issue.

ABS-CBN’s legal franchise to operate is set to lapse on March 30.

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Calida said that the petition was filed in order to stop the supposed “abusive practices” of the network.

TAGS: ABS-CBN, Congress, Edcel Lagman, quo warranto

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