SolGen used 'wrong case, wrong venue' vs ABS-CBN: expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2020 09:48 AM

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The Philippine government's top lawyer lodged a "wrong case" at the "wrong venue" to question the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp, a law expert said Tuesday.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday asked the Supreme Court to revoke ABS-CBN's franchise, set to expire in March, due to alleged "abuses" like pay-per-view operation and violation of the constitutional ban against foreign ownership.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Supreme Court, is the only body that could determine whether ABS-CBN allowed foreign investors to take part in its ownership, said lawyer Tony La Viña, who teaches constitutional law at the University of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, pay-per-view operations are not covered by franchise, but rather, permits that are under the jurisdiction of the National Telecommunications Commission, he said.

"Iyong kasong ito laban sa ABS-CBN ay maling kaso at sa maling venue," said La Viña, also a former dean of the Ateneo School of Government.

(The petition filed against ABS-CBN is a wrong case at the wrong venue.)

Calida also "usurped" the exclusive power of Congress to grant and revoke franchises, he said.

"Very confident ako na madi-dismiss ang kasong ito nang mabilisan," he added.

(I am very confident that this case will be dismissed immediately.)

ABS-CBN had said it "did not violate the law."

"We reiterate that everything we do is in accordance with the law... This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN," the network said in a statement.

The House of Representatives has yet to hear several bills seeking to renew the company's license to operate.

Umagang Kay Ganda, Feb. 11, 2020