MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had challenged ABS-CBN Corp before the high court and regulators, joined Monday the resumption of House committee hearings on the proposed fresh franchise for the broadcaster after he faced a warning for possible contempt charges.
Calida had skipped previous Congress hearings on bills that sought to give ABS-CBN a new 25-year license to operate following the May 4 expiration of its franchise, which regulators cited to force the network off air.
He and National Telecommunications Commission Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba will join the proceedings through teleconferencing on Zoom, according to a roll call of participants.
"We will give them... the opportunity to address the committees and clarify on the alleged interference on the exercise of our mandate," said House good government committee chairman Jonathan Sy-Alvarado.
The NTC in March told lawmakers it would let the country's top broadcaster operate provisionally beyond the May 4 expiration of its license, while bills for its franchise renewal were still pending in Congress.
However, Calida warned NTC officials that they could face graft charges if they gave ABS-CBN a provisional permit. The regulator on May 5 forced ABS-CBN off air due to its expired license.
In missing attending previous congressional hearings, he cited the "sub judice" rule that restricts comments that might influence the court.
Calida in February asked the Supreme Court to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to alleged legal issues like foreign ownership and illegal pay-per-view. The country's largest media and entertainment company has denied Calida's allegations in various fora.
Under the rules of procedure, any case before a court or quasi-judicial body "shall not stop or abate any inquiry conducted to carry out a legislative purpose," said Sy-Alvarado.
The Solicitor General last month denied that he meddled with the NTC's decision.
Watch a livestreaming of the proceedings here:
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