MANILA - The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday ordered ABS-CBN Corp and its unit ABS-CBN Convergence to respond to Solicitor General Jose Calida's plea for a gag order pending his petition to invalidate their franchises.
In a press briefing, the high court's spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the SC gave ABS-CBN and its subsidiary 5 days within notice to answer Calida's very urgent motion to stop the network from issuing statements on the merits of the case.
"Now in accordance with the due process requirement of the law, the Supreme Court has ordered the respondents ABS-CBN Corp and ABS-CBN Convergence to file their respective comments to the motion filed by Office of Solicitor General within a non-extendible period of 5 days of notice," said Hosaka.
He said the high court should hear both sides as part of due process.
"After ma-file ng ABS-CBN 'yan eh (After ABS-CBN files its response), the court will decide on the matter," he said.
In his motion, Calida asked the court to stop "parties and persons acting on their [network's] behalf" from releasing statements surrounding the quo warranto petition.
The government's top counsel had asked the high court to invalidate franchises of ABS-CBN Corp and ABS-CBN Convergence citing alleged abuses, including supposed violations of restrictions on foreign ownership.
The plea came just as the network's current franchise is set to expire on March 30. Several bills renewing its broadcast license are pending before the House of Representatives, but its leader, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch administration ally, has said the measures are "not that urgent."
ABS-CBN Corp has said it "did not violate the law."
“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the company said in a statement.
ABS-CBN operates free TV Channel 2 and dzMM radio, while ABS-CBN Convergence is its telecom unit.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.