ABS-CBN can apply for new franchise if Calida quo warranto succeeds – Panelo
MANILA, Philippines—Broadcast giant ABS-CBN can apply for a fresh franchise to operate if the Office of the Solicitor General’s petition to nullify the network’s license succeeds, Malacañang said Thursday.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, through a quo warranto petition, has asked the Supreme Court to stop the operations of ABS-CBN supposedly due to violations in its franchise terms.
“If the quo warranto succeeds, then all the ABS-CBN can do is reapply for a new franchise. There’s nothing that would prevent it from applying again for a new franchise,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
Several bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years remain pending before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
Its existing franchise will expire on March 30, 2020.
Panelo likewise maintained that the filing of the petition is an independent move by Calida and has nothing to do with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has publicly threatened to block the franchise renewal of the media network over its failure to air his 2016 presidential campaign advertisements.
Duterte even told ABS-CBN owners to just sell the company off it they want it to stay in business.
Critics claimed that Calida’s move is part of the Duterte administration’s plot to harass ABS-CBN and other media entities critical of the President’s policies, particularly his brutal drug war which has drawn international condemnation.
But Panelo, who is also Duterte’s legal counsel, maintained that the President’s threats are part of his freedom of expression and have nothing to do with Calida’s work.
The government’s top lawyer also used the quo warranto card in the removal of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who had clashed with Duterte shortly after he assumed office over the chief executive’s drug watchlist.
In a speech before members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas on Wednesday evening, Duterte did not mention the embattled ABS-CBN but said that the government will not tolerate any abuse on the privilege to broadcast.
He issued the statement after he urged members of the press not to think twice in publishing the truth, even if it destroys him.
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