Panelo: ABS-CBN operating beyond March 30 is legally questionable
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday said allowing embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN to continue to operate even if its franchise expires for as long as there is a pending bill in Congress seeking its extension is “legally questionable.”
Some lawmakers are claiming that the ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise, which is set to expire on March 30, is “deemed extended” until 2022 unless Congress decides to deny its renewal.
But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said “there is doubt whether that is legal or not,” adding that “somebody” may question it before the Supreme Court.
“According to them, there has been a practice of extending the franchise. But the legality of that would be questionable. If somebody questions that before the Supreme Court, may problema sila diyan [they will have a problem with that],” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Asked if the government would file a petition before the high court to question it in case it happens, Panelo said: “That’s for the SolGen [Solicitor General] to decide.”
“That is his job. If he feels that there is any violation of any law, then he should do his job.”
Several bills seeking to renew the franchise of the media giant for another 25 years remain pending before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
Duterte has publicly threatened to block the franchise renewal of the media network over its failure to air his 2016 presidential campaign advertisements.
But Panelo said Duterte’s scathing remarks against ABS-CBN is not to be blamed for the “impasse” on the pending bills for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise because “they know that the President was making utterances in reference to his being a victim of fraud by the entity.”
A month before ABS-CBN’s franchise expires, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court to revoke the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., citing what it described as “highly abusive practices” of the network.
ABS-CBN, for its part, has denied any wrongdoing.
Edited by JPV
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