CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A lawmaker has appealed to Solicitor General (SolGen) Jose Calida to reconsider his plan on filing a quo warranto case versus the franchise of ABS-CBN.
“(Calida’s) move will be seen as the government’s harassment of ABS-CBN and certainly a clear assault on press freedom as enshrined in our Constitution,” said Rufus Rodriguez, representative of this city’s first district, on Friday (Jan. 17).
Rodriguez added it will encroach the powers of the Legislative branch and will violate the Constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government.
The giant television network’s franchise will expire this March.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the granting of franchises on television and radio companies is exclusively lodged in Congress, he said.
“The Office of the Solicitor General cannot frustrate and remove such power by filing the case in court,” Rodriguez said.
Under Section 9, Rule 66 Rules of Court, a respondent in quo warranto proceedings will be ousted and/or excluded from holding or exercising a franchise if he is usurping, intruding into, or unlawfully holding/exercising a franchise. But ABS-CBN, Rodriguez said, is a holder of a valid franchise, thus, “there is no basis for quo warranto.”
Rule 66 defined a quo warranto petition as an action for the usurpation of a public office, position, or franchise.
‘Let Congress do its job’
Bills, including Rodriguez’s House Bill 5705, which seek to extend ABS-CBN’s franchise have been filed in Congress.
“Let Congress do its job by hearing these bills,” Rodriguez said.
If Calida has complaints against ABS-CBN, he can lodge them at the Committee on Legislative franchise, the lawmaker said, adding “(Calida) disrespects and denies due courtesy to Congress if he files the quo warranto petition.”
On numerous occasions, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise citing its “biased reporting” and failure to air a political advertisement during the 2016 campaign.
In a press conference Thursday (Jan. 16), presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Calida’s move may have been due to Duterte’s pronouncement. (davaotoday.com)