Supreme Court dismisses SolGen's quo warranto plea vs ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court en banc dismissed Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN Corporation for being moot.

Solicitor General Jose Calida
Photo courtesy of PCOO.

Last February, Calida filed the quo warranto petition against the media network alleging it has violated terms of its franchises.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained that the case is considered "moot" because the network is already off air. The ABS-CBN Corporation's franchise already expired on May 4 and it shut down on May 5 following the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) cease and desist order against it.

"The franchise being assailed by the [Office of the Solicitor General] has already expired last May 4. So, for that reason, there is nothing more that is the subject matter of that petition," Guevarra said.

"So, there is nothing to revoke or to cancel anymore," he added.

However, the dismissal of the quo warranto petition does not affect ABS-CBN's petition for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), or the NTC's cease and desist order. The network remains to be closed until Congress agrees to issue a new franchise for the network.

SolGen's quo warranto petition

Calida filed a quo warranto petition to forfeit the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida accused the media network of illegally acquiring smaller corporations which have legislative franchises over frequencies. He also alleged that ABS-CBN used investment schemes to try and evade the constitutional restrictions against foreign ownership of mass media entities in the Philippines.

The special civil action of quo warranto is a prerogative writ by which the government can call upon any person to show by what warrant he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise.

According to Calida, quo warranto is the "proper remedy" for the government to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida explained, "The franchises of ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence have to be revoked for the gross violations they have committed. A forfeiture of a franchise will have to be declared in a direct proceeding for the purpose brought by the State because a franchise is granted by law and its unlawful exercise is primarily a concern of the government. Quo warranto is specifically available as a remedy if it is thought that a corporation has offended against its corporate charter or misused its franchise.”

ABS-CBN franchise latest updates

Debates for the new franchise of ABS-CBN at the House of Representatives will resume on June 29. Among the major issues set to be tackled is the ABS-CBN TVPlus, or the so-called "black box."

In the previous hearings, the citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III, the issuance of Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) by ABS-CBN Holdings and the 50-year franchise limit were discussed.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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