Calida’s disbarment, dismissal from OSG pushed for bid to shut ABS-CBN
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima is calling for the disbarment and dismissal from service of Solicitor General Jose Calida after the latter warned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against granting ABS-CBN provisional authorities (PAs) while it awaits approval in Congress to continue operations.
Just before ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on Monday, Calida said the NTC may face prosecution under the country’s anti-graft and corruption laws if they issue “unlawful” PAs to the media giant, but presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated that the NTC has the final say on the fate of the media giant’s franchise following Calida’s warning.
“Solgen Calida’s threat to sue the (NTC) and its commissioners if they will issue provisional authorities to ABS-CBN and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., is an absolute violation of his duty as the statutory lawyer of NTC,” de Lima said Tuesday in a Camp Crame dispatch.
“In his threat against the NTC, he also belittled and contradicted the official position of the Department of
Justice, Senate and House of Representatives, that there is sufficient basis to allow the continued operation of ABS-CBN while the bills to extend their franchise are pending in Congress,” she added.
De Lima claimed that while lawyers are expected to be advocates of their clients, in this case, the NTC, Calida’s action “smacks of conflict of interest,” in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers.
Canon 17 of the Code states that a lawyer should owe fidelity to the cause of his client and he should be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
For going against the OSG’s clients, De Lima said Calida should be dismissed from service and disbarred for misconduct.
“Mr. Calida, ikaw ata ang tunay na may problema. Ang POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations) na perwisyo, aprubado sa‘yo. Ang ABS-CBN na nagseserbisyo, rejected mo. Kapakanan ng bayan ay bina-balewala. Kapritso ni Duterte ang sa iyo’y mahalaga,” the senator said.
(Mr. Calida, you are the real problem. You approve POGOs, which are a nuisance. Meanwhile, you reject ABS-CBN, which provides service. You dismiss the country’s welfare. Duterte’s caprice is what matters to you.)
The senator also commended the media giant’s service when its franchise was still active, adding that it is most needed now as the country struggles against the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Lima also stated that this is the second time Calida “acted against its client’s interest,” the first being late last year when the country’s top lawyer gave “unsolicited legal opinion” stating POGOs are not subject to income tax in the country as they earn money via bets from foreign players.
For this, de Lima said, POGOs are using Calida’s opinion to fend off collection efforts by the OSG-client Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), to the prejudice of our country.
“I urge my colleagues in Congress to hasten the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN to ensure that their service
to our people is not hampered during these trying times. Kailangan natin magtulong-tulong para malampasan ang delubyong ito na nararanasan ng ating bayan,” she added.
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