Senate tells SC its presence 'not required' in ABS-CBN plea vs closure order

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 02:25 PM

MANILA - The Senate's participation in ABS-CBN Corp's plea to resume broadcast operations is "not required," the legislative body said in its submission before the Supreme Court on June 1, a copy of which was released to the media Wednesday.

Filing a manifestation instead of a comment, the Senate invoked the doctrine of separation of powers and insisted it should be dropped from the case since it is neither an indispensable nor necessary party.
The Supreme Court had required the Senate and the House of Representatives- bodies with the power to approve legislative franchises- to comment on the petition filed by ABS-CBN to stop the implementation of the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) cease and desist order which forced the network off air on May 5, following the lapse of its franchise.

They were told to give comment within 10 days of notice, along with the NTC, which the network had directly impleaded in the petition. 

The Senate said its power and authority lies in enacting laws granting or renewing legislative franchises to operate television and radio stations while the SC petition deals with whether the NTC acted in accordance with the Constitution when it issued a CDO instead of a provisional authority in favor of ABS-CBN. This, the Senate said, is well within the "purview of judicial review."

"Besides, it is submitted that the Senate is not an indispensable party, nor even a necessary party to the present case. As such, it should be dropped as a party in the instant suit," it said.

An indispensable party, under the Rules of Court, is one who has a stake in the issue "without whom no final determination can be had of an action," while a necessary party is one who is needed in order to provide complete relief to all the parties or for a complete determination or settlement of a claim.

"The presence of the Senate as a party in the instant suit is not required because there is no counterclaim or cross-claim against the Senate in the case," it said.

A counterclaim is a claim made against the person suing while a cross-claim is made against another person.

"Further, impleading the Senate in the present case cannot grant complete relief to petitioner because the Honorable Court, as a co-equal body in government, cannot order or require the Senate to act one way or another -- either to grant, renew or deny a franchise for petitioner since the power to pass any law, including the grant, renewal or denial of a legislative franchise, is a plenary power and discretion exclusively lodged in Congress and cannot be compelled by any court," it added.

Relying on the opinion of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that the NTC could issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN on the basis of a concurrent resolution from both chambers of Congress, the Senate in March passed a resolution expressing the sense of the body that ABS-CBN should continue airing.

The House franchise committee also wrote a letter, signed by its chair and by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, directing the NTC to issue provisional authority.

Despite this, the NTC issued the closure order citing the expiration of ABS-CBN's franchise on May 4, which prompted the media giant to seek relief from the Supreme Court.

The House of Representatives has yet to file its comment to the ABS-CBN petition.

NTC has moved to dismiss ABS-CBN's TRO plea, justifying its decision to issue a CDO.

ABS-CBN has 5 days to reply to the comments.

SC magistrates are expected to resolve the plea for a TRO as soon as all submissions are in.

ABS-CBN earlier said it was losing up to P35 million in advertising revenues every day it is off the air, which could lead to job cuts affecting its 11,000 workers.