Calida ‘snubs’ Senate ABS-CBN franchise hearing, cites sub judice
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday declined to appear before a Senate committee hearing on the franchise of troubled television giant ABS-CBN.
Calida cited ‘sub judice’ in a letter sent to the office of Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee.
The Solicitor General personally filed the quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN last February 10, urging the Supreme Court to forfeit the network’s franchise.
“It appears that the matters to which I am expected to express my views and comments on are precisely the subject matter of the Petition for Quo Warranto,” Calida said in his letter.
“Considering that the issues to be discussed in the public hearing is sub judice, it is with much regret that I respectfully decline your invitation. Please note that the ‘operations of’ and ‘compliance by’ ABS-CBN Corp., together with the possible ‘extension of the franchise’ are the lis mota (litigation moved) of the said Petition,” he added.
The ABS-CBN franchise is set to expire this March, and bills are pending before the Senate and House of Representatives to have this extended.
On numerous occasions, President Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, accusing the network of biased reporting and riling against its failure to air his political advertisement during the 2016 campaign.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the granting of a franchise to television and radio companies is a power lodged in Congress
International group Human Rights Watch decried President Duterte’s moves blocking the franchise renewal, taking it as a curtailment of press freedom. The group added that lawmakers should remain “independent” from the President’s whims.