Top lawyer daw! Drilon schools Calida can’t sue ‘client’ NTC, can’t overturn DOJ opinion on ABS-CBN franchise issue

A day after proclaiming himself as “government’s top lawyer”, Solicitor General Jose Calida was put in his place by Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon regarding the ABS-CBN franchise issue.

Drilon said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) cannot threaten to sue for graft the National Telecommunications Commission if it granted ABS-CBN Corp. a provisional authority to operate after its franchise expired on May 4, 2020.

“The OSG should be reminded of its mandate under the law. Under the Revised Administrative Code, the OSG shall act as lawyer of government agencies including the NTC. There is a conflict of interest there when the lawyer threatens to sue its client. It is NTC and not OSG that is granted regulatory functions under the law,” said Drilon.

“This is not the first time that NTC will be issuing a temporary and conditional permit to operate. It has been done in the past and has been recognized in the 2003 case being cited by Calida. The Court never barred the NTC from issuing temporary permits to operate. It merely said that the broadcaster cannot completely do away with the requirement to apply for a franchise, as provided under the law,” Drilon added.

Drilon also said Calida has no choice but to follow the stand of Justice Secretary Menardo on the ABS-CBN issue unde the law.

“Assuming that the OSG and the NTC take conflicting positions, the Administrative Code provides that all disputes involving questions of law shall be settled or decided by the Secretary of Justice. There is nothing in the law which allows the OSG to overturn an opinion by the Secretary of Justice,” said Drilon.

A day after Calida threatened to sue NTC, Guevarra reiterated his position to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of its franchise remained pending with Congress.

Drilon said Calida has no business blocking Congress from endorsing ABS-CBN’s continued operation pending its franchise renewal.

“The grant of a franchise is a sovereign power granted in Congress. Congress already wrote to the NTC. What power does the Solicitor General have to contradict the body that acts as the repository of the sovereign power? The OSG cannot say that an act of the legislative or an agency of the executive branch is illegal. That is for the Courts to decide,” said Drilon.

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