Calida 'expected' to attend House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise renewal: lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 04:23 PM | Updated as of May 25 2020 05:03 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida files a quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence at the Supreme Court on Monday, February 10, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Solicitor General Jose Calida is expected by congressmen to attend the House Committee on Legislative Franchises' hearing Tuesday on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, a lawmaker said Monday.

Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, one of the committee's five vice-chairpersons, said in a statement that Calida is among a number of resource persons the panel called "to shed light and provide a general overview of the issues."

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, which Sy-Alvarado chairs, will jointly conduct the hearing with the legislative franchises committee, headed by Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez.

"Just like the members of Congress, I am sure our kababayans would like to hear - and they deserve to hear - what SolGen Calida has to say, instead of just reading or watching about it in the news," Sy-Alvarado said.

Calida's expected presence in the hearing is "without prejudice to the quo warranto case he has filed before the Supreme Court" against the expired franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida asked the high court in February to invalidate ABS-CBN's franchise, citing alleged violation by the company of the Constitutional ban on foreign ownership and purportedly operating "beyond the scope of its legislative franchise." The quo warranto petition remains unresolved.

The franchise of ABS-CBN, which insisted it did not violate the law, has since expired on May 4, without any of pending bills in Congress seeking to grant it a fresh 25-year franchise getting passed.

On May 5, the country's leading media and entertainment company halted its broadcast operations after the National Telecommunications Commission issued it a cease-and-desist order, going back to its commitment to lawmakers in March that ABS-CBN will be granted a provisional authority.

It followed the warning Calida gave to the NTC on the eve of the expiry of ABS-CBN's franchise against the issuance of a provisional authority.

Sy-Alvarado said Calida's appearance at the House is not expected to affect the case lodged before the SC, citing the Constitution and a House rule that states, "the filing or pendency of a case before any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial or administrative body shall not stop or abate any inquiry conducted to carry out a legislative purpose."

Calida did not attend hearings conducted by the Senate in February and last week that tackled issues related to ABS-CBN.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has blamed Calida for "unconstitutionally meddling" with ABS-CBN's franchise renewal issue.