Dismissal of quo warranto plea to impact ABS-CBN franchise hearings, solon says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 24)— The dismissal of the quo warranto petition lodged by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN will have a significant impact on the ongoing House hearings on the media giant’s franchise, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Rep. Lawrence Fortun said Congress will have to “respect the opinions” of agencies including the Justice Department, given that some of the issues being tackled in the lower chamber’s proceedings were already raised in Calida’s plea.

With the dismissal, there will be no more Supreme Court ruling to counter the statements, he explained.

“So when the DOJ said that former ABS-CBN President was 100 percent Filipino, and the time he became president and owned shares of the corporation, Congress will have to respect that. When the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) said that the PDRs (Philippine Depositary Receipts) issued by ABS-CBN to foreigners were not illegal, then Congress will have to respect that,’ Fortun told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“What I’m saying is that since there is no ruling by the Supreme Court and there’s no more pending case that are looking at these issues, Congress will have to respect the legal and expert opinions of the agencies that are concerned,” he added.

The high court on Tuesday junked Calida’s quo warranto charge against ABS-CBN, noting the franchise in question already expired in May, thus making the move “moot.”

The government’s top lawyer, in seeking to revoke ABS-CBN’s then-valid license, cited “highly abusive” practices by the network, including supposed foreign ownership and operational issues.

The media company has since refuted the allegations.

ABS-CBN’s broadcast operations halted following the expiry of its franchise, in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission’s shutdown order. Despite the sign-off, its digital platforms including its online news websites, video streaming services, and social media platforms continue to operate.

Hearings on the media giant’s franchise are set to resume on June 29.