Jun 23, 2020 @ 15:17

SC dismisses quo warranto plea vs ABS-CBN for being moot

Supreme Court Public Information Office chief Brian Keith Hosaka on Tuesday confirmed that the high court junked the quo warranto petition filed against troubled broadcasting giant ABS-CBN Corp. for being moot and academic.

” I was able to confirm with Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta that the Supreme Court dismissed today (Tuesday) during their En Banc meeting the Quo Warranto petition (GR No. 251358) filed by the Solicitor General against ABS CBN Corporation on the ground of mootness. However the case as against respondent ABS CBN Convergence Inc, remains pending,” Hosaka said in a message.

Last February 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the SC to nullify the franchise of television giant ABC-CBN. A quo warranto petition was filed against ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc

In a “Very Urgent Omnibus Motion,” the OSG urged the high court to forfeit the franchise of ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., saying “they are unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises.”

Also, the OSG stressed the petition was meant to stop the alleged “abusive practices” of ABS CBN.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said in a statement.

ABS-CBN’s franchise expired last May, prompting the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a cease-and-desist order. Several bills are pending before the Senate and House of Representatives to have the franchise 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.

At the same time, Calida accused the network of being under foreign ownership citing as basis for his claim the network’s Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) which were issued supposedly through ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation.

“The media giant has been hiding behind an elaborately crafted corporate veil and has been allowing foreign investors to take part in the ownership of a Philippine mass media entity,” Calida said.

Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution provides that “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

“This simply means that mass media companies operating in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino owned because they play an integral role in a nation’s economic, political, and socio-cultural landscape,” he added.

Furthermore, the OSG claimed ABS-CBN also went beyond its mandate when it launched its TV Plus subscription service and the KBO Channel without approval from the National Telecommunications Commission.

” The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., must be revoked. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws,” Calida said.

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