Supreme Court junks Gadon's plea vs issuance of provisional permit to ABS-CBN

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2020 12:42 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2020 07:12 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday unanimously dismissed a petition filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who sought to to stop the country's telecoms body from allowing ABS-CBN to operate beyond its lapsed franchise.

The high court unanimously junked Gadon's petition on the ground of "no legal standing," the high court said in its decision, as published by its information office in a statement.

"Filing cases in the Supreme Court is a serious affair. It should never be considered except when all the requisites of judicial review are present. Certainly, it should never be contemplated by one who admits not suffering any legal injury," it said.

"Petitioner could have been more circumspect. He will benefit more from restraint and huge dose of humility."

Gadon had filed a petition for prohibition with a plea for a temporary restraining order with the Supreme Court to stop the National Telecommunications Commission from acting on the letter from the House franchise committee directing it to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN Corp.

Named as respondents were House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, House franchise committee chair Franz Alvarez, and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

Gadon claimed the NTC has no authority or jurisdiction to issue a permit to operate when ABS-CBN’s franchise expires since its functions are merely regulatory and supervisory.

He also argued that the House did not authorize Cayetano and Alvarez to write the letter to the NTC and that the separation of powers among the three branches of government will be violated by the House’s letter, insisting that only Congress has the power to extend or renew a franchise.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier advised NTC that a concurrent resolution from both chambers of Congress would suffice as basis to issue the provisional authority but Gadon insisted that what is needed is a law, not a resolution.

In dismissing the petition, Gadon's legal standing was put into question.

Gadon admitted in his petition that he would not be directly affected by the grant of provisional authority to ABS-CBN but claimed the issue is of transcendental importance and there is public interest involved given the “far-reaching implications” of the petition.

In a separate statement, he said he filed the petition “for the sake of upholding the law, to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution, to remind Congress of the principle of separation of powers of the three branches of government, that no one shall encroach on the powers of another.”

The Supreme Court, on May 19, also denied outright Gadon's previous attempt to consolidate ABS-CBN's TRO plea to resume broadcast operations with his own petition.

Shortly after, Gadon filed a motion to withdraw his petition on May 21, saying his petition has been "mooted by supervening events" after the NTC ordered ABS-CBN's closure on May 5 and the House withdrew moves to grant the network a provisional franchise on May 19.
 
WHO IS GADON?

The controversial lawyer became known for filing an impeachment complaint against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and for calling the then top magistrate's supporters "mga bobo" (stupid) and flashing the middle finger at them outside the high court compound in Baguio City. 

He described himself as an “anti-bobo” crusader in his failed bid for senator in 2019.

Gadon also represented Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, the hooded figure in the viral “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos, who filed a sedition complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and more than 30 others.

A DOJ panel of prosecutors junked the complaint against Robredo but filed conspiracy to commit sedition charges against Trillanes and 10 others.

Gadon also served as lawyer for Guillermina Barrido alias Guillermina Arcillas, the Davao-based businesswoman who accused Trillanes and 3 others of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.

At the time of filing the Bikoy and Barrido complaints, the Supreme Court had suspended Gadon for abusive language against a doctor and a fellow lawyer.

He voluntarily served his 3-month suspension starting October last year. But he is still facing 4 disbarment complaints. 

These include one filed in 2016 after he allegedly said Muslims should be killed to attain peace in Mindanao. Another was filed by Wilfredo Garrido, Jr. over his supposed arrogance at the House of Representatives during the committee hearing on the impeachment complaint he filed against Sereno. 

Two other cases were filed against him after he cursed and raised the middle finger at pro-Sereno protesters in Baguio City at the height of quo warranto proceedings in April 2018.

He has brushed aside the allegations as baseless.

ABS-CBN also reported in October last year that Gadon had not been attending mandatory seminars for lawyers over the past 10 years.