June 17, 2020 at 11:20 pm
Rey E. Requejo and Maricel Cruz
The Supreme Court has outrightly dismissed the petition of a lawyer who assailed the validity of the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order that forced television giant ABS-CBN Corporation to go off air last May 5.
In an en banc resolution, the SC resolved to junk the petition of Atty. Paris Real for lack of legal standing to file the case.
The petition filed by ABS-CBN against the NTC’s CDO is set for deliberation on July 13, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta said last week.
Earlier, the SC also dismissed the petition, also for lack of legal standing, of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon who asked the high tribunal to stop the NTC from issuing ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate.
Gadon earlier withdrew his petition and claimed his case had become moot with the issuance of NTC’s CDO.
However, the SC, instead of granting the motion to withdraw, dismissed Gadon’s petition.
“Filing cases in the Supreme Court is a serious affair. It should never be considered except when all the requisites of judicial review are present. Certainly, it should never be contemplated by one who admits not suffering any legal injury. Not only will the over eagerness to file border on the contumacious, it also puts in unnecessary peril the legal arguments of the person or entity that has an actual case,” the SC ruled.
In his petition, Real argues that ABS-CBN’s franchise has not expired due to the current public health emergency that President Duterte himself declared.
“The expirations of the Franchises of ABS-CBN and its Permits to Operate, Certificates and Licenses from the NTC, were interrupted, tolled and/or suspended by the aforesaid Emergency Laws during the Community Quarantine and the same shall ‘continue to be valid sixty (60) days after the end of the government-imposed quarantine period,’”Real said.
“In fact, the same Emergency Laws mandate that the ‘holders of these permits, certificates and licenses shall be given sixty (60) days from the end of the government-imposed quarantine period to file for the renewal of their permits, certificates and licenses, without penalties or surcharges,” he said.
As this developed, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile attended Wednesday’s congressional hearing on the pending bills seeking the renewal of franchise to operate of ABS-CBN.
Enrile attended the hearing as he testified on "constitutionality" of the acquisition of the Lopez family of the network following the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor was the one who requested the House committees of legislative franchises, and good government and public accountability that Enrile be invited to share his insights on the "history of ABS-CBN" as he-- being the then Defense Minister-- was the one who carried out the sequestration order to ABS-CBN and other broadcasting companies during the Marcos regime.
ABS-CBN counsel Arecio Rendor Jr. said the Lopezes' acquisition of ABS-CBN following the Marcos regime was legal.
He said the Lopez family never lost ownership of ABS-CBN even if it was shut down in 1972 following the declaration on Martial Law.
Relatedly, ABS-CBN vice-chairperson, Augusto Almeda Lopez ABS-CBN has been operating since 1953 and was shut down in 1972 during the Martial Law declaration.
Almeda said the Marcos regime took control of the station’s operation for 13 years and that the Lopez family allowed the administration of then president Corazon Aquino to use the station’s facilities during the Edsa Revolution.
"We allowed the forces of Cory Aquino and Juan Ponce Enrile to use ABS-CBN during the crisis period," Almeda said. "The Cory government did not return the station to us, we lent it to the Cory government."