‘Too early’ to tell effect of SC case on ABS-CBN franchise bid – Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — It’s still “too early” to say if the pending quo warranto case against media giant ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court would affect the network’s bid for franchise renewal in Congress, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Cayetano underscored the difference between the quo warranto case filed by the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) and ABS-CBN’s bid for its franchise to be renewed.
Last Feb. 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, accusing the network of “abusive practices.”
“SolGen Calida’s petition is regarding the existing franchise. What is pending the House is [the bid for a franchise renewal] for the next 25 years,” Cayetano, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters.
“It is too early — because we have not seen the decision — to see whether or not it [the Supreme Court ruling] will affect the new franchise, because if there is no violation, it should not affect the franchise,” the House Speaker said.
But in the event that the Supreme Court sees that ABS-CBN indeed violated its franchise, the committee on legislative franchises has to see if the committed violations would be enough to affect the granting of a new franchise to the network.
“For me, we will not second-guess the Supreme Court. Definitely, we will follow their decision. But there’s difference between what is pending in the Supreme Court and what is pending before the committee [on legislative franchises],” Cayetano said.
He also responded to the petition filed by lawyer Lorenzo G. Gadon urging the Supreme Court to stop the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from granting ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate once its franchise had expired on May 4.
Cayetano and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the Committee on Legislative Franchises, sent a letter to the NTC enjoining it to grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate, effective on May 4, 2020 “until such time that the House of Representatives/Congress has made a decision on its application.”
Gadon questioned this move, saying that the Cayetano’s directive to the NTC would violate the doctrine of separation of powers and would be a “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
“On my part, I’m requesting countrymen: Please don’t stop us from doing our job. But it’s his right. He’s a lawyer. He’s a citizen of this country. He didn’t take my advice. He wants ABS-CBN to be shut down immediately,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano believes that the Supreme Court would not stop their action on the franchise since “it’s part of our congressional responsibilities and duties and constitutional mandate to look into and grant franchises.”
“Of course, if the Supreme Court says that the Congress’ action was not allowed, then that’s a different story,| he said. “But until that point in time, Attorney Gadon has one opinion in 110 million Filipinos. We don’t share his opinion.”
The Committee on Legislative Franchises held its first hearing on ABS-CBN franchise renewal on Tuesday afternoon.
But rather than hearing stakeholders involved in the issue, the committee instead focused on discussing the ground rules for May, when the formal deliberations on the franchise renewal begin.
There are 11 bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years.
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