Solicitor General Calida to skip House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise


Posted at May 26 2020 10:22 AM

Solicitor General Calida to skip House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise 1
A store-owner watches the final airing of TV Patrol moments before ABS-CBN signed off on May 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had challenged ABS-CBN Corp before the high court and regulators, said he would skip Tuesday's hearing in Congress on bills seeking a fresh 25-year franchise for the network.

The government's chief lawyer told the House franchise committee in a letter that he had filed in February a quo warranto petition that sought to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to alleged abuses like foreign ownership and illegal pay-per-view.

The country's largest media and entertainment company denied Calida's allegations in various fora.

Calida said his office also represents the National Telecommunications Office, which forced ABS-CBN off air last May 5, a day after its franchise expired.

Calida said the "sub judice" rule, which restricts comments that might influence the court, "prohibits [him] from sharing views and recommendations" with the House in relation to the quo warranto petition and the NTC's cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN.

"This rule aims to immunize the court from every extraneous influence and to maintain the dignity and authority of the court in the administration of impartial justice," he said.

The House last week stopped deliberations for a provisional license for ABS-CBN and instead opted to start hearings on bills seeking a 25-year franchise.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House would be "ready to decide" on the bills by August, the same month that the network said it might "consider" retrenchment of its 11,000-strong workforce.

The NTC in March told lawmakers that it would let the country's top broadcaster operate provisionally beyond the May 4 expiration of its license, while bills for its franchise renewal stalled in Congress for years.

But days after Calida warned NTC officials that they could face graft charges if they gave ABS-CBN a provisional permit, the regulator ordered the outfit to stop broadcasting.

Calida last week denied that he meddled with the NTC's decision. is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.
With a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News