Ex-presidential spokesman Roque weighs in on quo warranto vs ABS-CBN


Posted at Feb 10 2020 04:16 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2020 05:06 PM

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The franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. is up to Congress, a former spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday, after the government's top lawyer asked the Supreme Court to nullify the media network's license. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in his quo warranto petition, cited supposed "abuses" in ABS-CBN’s franchise which would expire at the end of March. The House of Representatives has yet to hear several bills seeking to renew the company's license to operate.
The quo warranto petition will become "moot and academic" if the Supreme Court does not take action on it in less than 2 months or before ABS-CBN's franchise expires, said former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who is also a media law and constitutional expert. 

The Supreme Court is unlikely to halt the network's operation through a temporary restraining order due to "heavy presumption of unconstitutionality," he said. 

"Ang fearless forecast ko, hanggang sa pagpaso ng franchise ng ABS-CBN, i-eere ang ABS-CBN," he told DZMM. 

(My fearless forecast there is ABS-CBN will continue to go on air until its franchise expires.) 

The Supreme Court decision, he added, would only cover the last 2 months of the old franchise, not the new one that Congress might or might not grant, said Roque. 

"Poder ng mga korte na sabihin kung may paglabag sa prangkisa. Poder naman ng Kongreso para magbigay ng bagong prangkisa. Iyong poder ng korte ay para lang sa panahon na buhay pa ang lumang prangkisa," he added. 

(It is the courts' jurisdiction to say whether there is a franchise violation. Meanwhile, it is Congress' jurisdiction to grant a new franchise. The court's jurisdiction is only for the period that the old franchise is still valid.) 

"Nakasalalay talaga ang buhay ng ABS-CBN sa franchise na manggaling sa Kongreso," he added. 

(The life of ABS-CBN's franchise really depends on the franchise that will come from Congress.) 

Duterte, who has repeatedly criticized ABS-CBN, can veto Congress' approval of its franchise. Congress can override the override veto with the backing of two-thirds of its members, Roque noted. 

The President is unlikely to veto the franchise, his former spokesperson said. 

"Abogado ito... Sa aking pagkakakilala kay Presidente e rerespetuhin naman niya ang desisyon ng Kongreso, kung ano man iyon," he said. 

(He's a lawyer. Based on how I know the President, he would respect Congress' decision, whatever that could be.)  - DZMM, Feb. 10, 2020