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DOJ: Congress need not wait for SC quo warranto ruling on ABS-CBN franchise

By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday, Feb. 11, that Congress can proceed with the legislative process concerning the renewal of ABS-CBN network’s franchise without waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the quo warranto petition against the media giant.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
(PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Guevarra pointed this out because Solicitor General Jose Calida filed on Monday the quo warranto petition which sought to forfeit the legislative franchise of the network which is set to expire this March.

Read more: SolGen files quo warranto petition vs. ABS CBN

“The filing of the petition for quo warranto seeking the forfeiture of ABS-CBN’s franchise is independent of, and separate from, the legislative process of granting the renewal of the said franchise upon expiration of its term in March,” Guevarra stressed.

There are several bills pending in Congress concerning the renewal of the franchise.

A quo warranto “is a special civil action brought in the name of the Philippines against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise; or against a public officer who does or suffers an act which, by provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office; or an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority to act.”

“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,” the OSG had said in a statement.

“The petition will show that ABS-CBN has been broadcasting for a fee, which is beyond the scope of its legislative franchise,” it cited.

The OSG added that the network has been hiding behind an “elaborately crafted corporate veil” which allowed “foreign investors to take part in the ownership of Philippine mass media entity, in gross violation of the foreign interest restriction of mass media provided under Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution.”

“ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by the State when it launched and operated a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunications Commission.  While it is true that broadcasting is a business, the welfare of the people must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit,” the OSG also claimed.

ABS-CBN has denied all claims made by Calida.

Read more: ABS-CBN: We did not violate the law

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