The petition by the government’s lead lawyer was an incorrect way to strip ABS-CBN Corp. of its franchise, the former head of the judiciary said Friday as he urged lawmakers to renew the license of the country’s largest media network.
A quo warranto should cite abuses that were committed before a franchise is granted or an official is appointed. The alleged violations raised against ABS-CBN were supposedly committed after it secured its license, said former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban.
“Is the quo warranto the right remedy to scrap the operation of ABS-CBN? No,” Panganiban told ABS-CBN News’ Karen Davila.
In related developments:
• Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday opposed the opinion of two retired Supreme Court justices regarding the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, saying 11,000 jobs were at stake.
“This issue on ABS-CBN cannot be decided in a vacuum as the retired justices want Congress to do. Our conscience will not allow us to do that because the reality is, 11,000 jobs are on the line here,” Drilon said.
The broadcast license of the country’s largest media and entertainment company will expire on May 4. Duterte on Wednesday said a new franchise would be up to the lawmakers to decide.
“Because of your response, we were relieved especially since we have long been concerned for our jobs and future,” the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees’ Union told President Duterte in a statement.
Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court in a quo warranto petition to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise, set to expire on May 4, due to alleged abuses like illegal pay-per-view offering and foreign ownership.
The House of Representatives has yet to tackle several bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s license to operate. The Senate held a hearing on Monday on the network’s compliance with its current franchise, where ABS-CBN executives clarified it did not violate license provisions.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano had said discussing ABS-CBN franchise was “not that urgent” because it could operate until 2022, the end of the 18th Congress.
But on Wednesday, the House franchise committee asked the National Telecommunications Commission to give the media giant a “provisional” permit to operate past its franchise expiration.
The NTC previously gave provisional permits to Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Smart Communications Inc. and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Panganiban said.
“It would be bad if this won’t happen to ABS-CBN, too. As they say, there should be equity, fair play, ordinary justice”•all should get the same treatment,” Panganiban said.
However, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno was quoted in a media report that ABS-CBN could no longer operate once its legislative franchise expired, even if it secured an NTC permit.
He cited a 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the Associated Communications & Wireless Services-United Broadcasting Networks.