Discussions on case vs ABS-CBN deferred to March 10 – SC

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday announced it has postponed the discussions on the petition against media network ABS-CBN Corporation seeking to scrap its broadcast franchise due to alleged violations.

SC spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said the high court, which sat en banc on Wednesday, did not make any decision on the quo warranto and gag order petitions filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against the media network.

Hosaka said the deferment aims to give the Justices time to study the pleadings and comments submitted by the concerned parties.

“The case will be taken up again by the en banc on March 10, 2020. This is to give the Justices time to go over the pleadings submitted by the parties, including the comments recently filed by the respondents,” he said in a statement.

Calida on February 10 asked the Supreme Court to forfeit of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN, claiming the network committed highly abusive practices and violations including foreign ownership and lack of operating permits.

The government’s top lawyer also urged the high court to issue a gag order to stop ABS-CBN and other parties concerned from discussing the petition.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing to do with ABS-CBN’s franchise woes despite his previous threats of shutting down the network.

“The quo warranto has nothing to do with the personal feeling of displeasure, hurt and offense of the President. The SolGen has constitutional duty to do what he has done,” Panelo said.

“The franchise renewal of ABS-CBN has been there, filed in 2014 prior to the assumption of this President, so there is no way by which anybody can be blaming this President for the inaction of Congress whether the previous Congress or the present Congress,” he added.

The House of Representatives has yet to begin deliberations on the bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise which is set to expire in May. Congress goes on a break on March 11.

The Senate on Monday conducted a hearing on the franchise woes of ABS-CBN where the network’s top executives attended.

During the hearing, the company’s president and CEO, Carlo Katigbak expressed apology for failing to air then-presidential candidate Mayor Duterte’s campaign ad in 2016.

Panelo said he has yet to get the president’s response on the network’s apology. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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