MANILA - Malacañang denied on Thursday that it was involved in the reported plan of the Solicitor General to question the validity of the franchise of media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corp. before the Supreme Court.
This after the Manila Times reported on Thursday that the Office of the Solicitor General would ask the high tribunal to revoke ABS-CBN's franchise through a quo warranto petition due to supposed violations.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo cleared President Rodrigo Duterte of any links to the alleged petition.
“Ang ibig mong sabihin kung may instructions si Presidente? Wala. Trabaho kasi ng SolGen yun,” he said.
(There are no instructions from President Duterte. That’s the job of the SolGen.)
Panelo added that he heard about the petition but has yet to read it, nor has he spoken with Solicitor General Jose Calida.
“You must remember that the job of the SolGen is to file the appropriate petitions when he sees or feels that there’s a transgression of franchises or any law for that matter,” he told reporters in Malacañang.
“Basta may violation ng batas, hindi puwedeng pumasok ang press freedom. Kasi ang press freedom, mayroon ding limitation eh,” he said.
(As long as there is a violation of the law, it's not a question of press freedom. Because press freedom also has limitations.)
The President has repeatedly threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which is set to expire in March.
Last December, Duterte even said that it would be better for its owners to just sell it.
The Office of the Solicitor General was behind the quo warranto petition that led to the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice in 2018.
Rule 66 of the Rules of Civil Procedure defines a quo warranto petition as an "action for the usurpation of a public office, position or franchise."
It may be filed against a person who "usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise," a "public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office," or "an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act."
Several lawmakers and organizations have called on Congress to act on measures renewing the network's franchise, citing the thousands of ABS-CBN employees who stand to lose their jobs if the company's broadcast operations stop.
ABS-CBN operates free TV Channel 2 and Radio DZMM.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN.