MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday dismissed Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition questioning ABS-CBN Corp's franchise, ruling that the issue was "moot and academic."
Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said he confirmed the full court's action with Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
"I was able to confirm with Chief Justice Peralta that the Supreme Court dismissed today during their En Banc meeting the Quo Warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General against ABS CBN Corporation on the ground of mootness," he said in a statement.
Calida in February asked the Supreme Court to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to its alleged violations such as foreign ownership and illegal pay-per-view. ABS-CBN has many times denied Calida's allegations. ABS-CBN Corp's broadcast franchise lapsed on May 4.
The quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., however, remains pending, Hosaka said. Sources said magistrates believe the firm's franchise remains valid.
ABS-CBN Convergence obtained its franchise through Republic Act 7908 granting Multi-Media Telephony Inc a franchise on February 23, 1995.
On June 30, 1997, however, RA 8332 amended RA 7908 to allow additional services such as mobile, cellular, wired or wireless telecommunications systems and value-added services.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange in March, ABS-CBN Convergence said its franchise expired on March 17 and that it has "suspended operations which require a legislative franchise or provisional authority."
Malacañang said it respects the decision of the Supreme Court and reiterated that the franchise renewal is up to Congress.
"We leave it to the Solicitor-General as the petitioner to decide on his next legal steps," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Meanwhile, on the issue of renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, we consider this a prerogative of Congress, which is presently deliberating on the matter," he added.
The country's largest broadcaster was forced off the air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission went back on its commitment to allow ABS-CBN to operate beyond its lapsed franchise on May 4.
The NTC has said it issued a cease-and-desist order against the network following the Solicitor General's quo warranto petition.
The network, which has some 11,000 workers, has asked the high court to block the NTC's closure order, which it would tackle on July 13.
Lawmakers are set to resume hearings on ABS-CBN's fresh franchise bid next week.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.