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claims network violated sub judice rule

OSG seeks gag order on quo warranto case vs ABS-CBN

01:14 PM February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the Supreme Court to stop concerned parties from talking about the quo warranto petition it filed against ABS-CBN Corporation and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.

In its Very Urgent Motion filed Tuesday, the OSG led by Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the high court to issue a gag order on the parties of the case.

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ABS-CBN earlier issued a statement on the quo warranto case filed by the OSG.

In its statement, ABS-CBN denied the allegations raised by Calida, saying that it had fully complied with all the pertinent laws and regulation governing its franchise, and that the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) issued by the network which was questioned by the solicitor general have been evaluated and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange prior to public offering.

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But Calida claimed that while ABS-CBN’s statement did not violate the sub judice rule or the prohibition against public discussion of pending cases, the subsequent moves of the network showed it is “engaged in propaganda” to influence public opinion.

“However, not content with issuing its official statement on the petition, ABS-CBN thereafter engaged in propaganda in a clear attempt to elicit public sympathy, sway public opinion, and, ultimately, to influence the resolution of the case,” he said.

Calida cited several videos posted on ABS-CBN’s website which he claimed tended to sway public opinion, one of which was titled “Quo Warranto petition laban sa ABS-CBN, ano ang ibig sabihin,” which aired on February 14, and which the OSG said directly tackled the allegations in the quo warranto petition.

“The statements aired by anchor Christian Esguerra in the video tend to influence public opinion and unfairly encourage the prejudgment of the instant case that in the event that the quo warranto petition will be granted, the Filipinos will experience a sense of unjust treatment as they would be deprived of their favorite shows in ABS-CBN,” the motion said.

The “very urgent motion” also cited another video, titled “Pagbabalita ng DZMM, binigyang pugay ng karaniwang Pilipino, broadcasted on TV Patrol on February 16, which the OSG said elicited from those interviewed “biased answers in favor of ABS-CBN.”

Another video cited was the “Pagtatalakay ng Quo Warranto vs ABS-CBN sa Korte sinimulan na” that aired on TV Patrol last February 11, and which according to OSG justified the operations of its pay-per-view channel, the validity of which was raised in the quo warranto petition.

“ABS-CBN’s actions violate the sub judice rule restricting comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. A violation of this rule may render one liable for indirect contempt,” he said, pointing out that the purpose of the sub judice rule is to avoid a prejudgment of the case, influencing the court, and obstructing the administration of justice.

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“Any grievances must be ventilated through the proper petitions, motions, or other pleadings before the courts. Our courts must be able to conduct its business in an orderly manner from outside interference and influence,” he said, adding that the SC in previous jurisprudences had ruled that justices and judges “are not immune from the pervasive effects of the media.”

“Respondents belong to the biggest media conglomerate in the country whose artists and talents, impervious to the law, freely publish their comments. We want a gag order to be issued in this case so that facts can be decided upon the evidence produced in court, and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice, or sympathies,’ he added.

The SC earlier directed ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence to comment on the quo warranto petition during their en banc session last week.

SC Spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the order to comment also refers to the solicitor general’s plea for the high court to issue a temporary restraining order and or preliminary injunction on the network’s pay per view channel, ABS-CBN TV Plus KBO Channel.

Calida said ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by the State when it launched and operated the pay per view channel without prior approval or permission from the National Telecommunications Commission.

Further, he accused the network of hiding behind an “elaborately crafted corporate veil” because foreign investors take part in the ownership of the network through the issuance of the PDRs which is in violation of the foreign interest restriction of mass media under the 1987 Constitution.

Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution provides that “(t)he ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

Edited by EDV
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TAGS: ABS-CBN, franchise, Jose Calida, Office of the Solicitor General, Supreme Court
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