Palace says SolGen may question ABS-CBN before court if it operates after franchise expiration
Malacanang said on Thursday that if Congress fails to act on the franchise of ABS-CBN and it would continue to operate after the March 30 expiration, the Office of the Solicitor General might question it before the court.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said if Congress wants to pass a law, renewing the giant television network's franchise, then the lawmkers should do it, "because if the expiration comes, then it is expired."
"According to them (lawmakers), there has been a practice of extending the franchise. But the legality of that would be questionable. If somebody questions that before the Supreme Court, they will have a problem," said Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel.
Asked if the government would file a petition before the court in the event that ABS-CBN would still operate without franchise, he said, "That's for the SolGen to decide...because that is his job. If he feels that there is any violation on any law, then he should do his job."
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court to revoke its existing franchise for allegedly violating constitutional provisions.
He made the action following President Rodrigo Duterte's continued attack on the Lopez-owned network.
Duterte has claimed that ABS-CBN should be charged for "swindling" after collecting payment from him for his supposed campaign advertisements, which the network never aired during the 2010 presidential elections.
Panelo kept on insisting Duterte was not behind Calida's action.
While there are also several pending bills at the administration-allied House of Representatives for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, they have not yet moved.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House wants to focus first on other priority measures than the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.
But he said they have been coordinating with the National Telecommunications Commission for an arrangement that would allow ABS-CBN not to shut down when its franchise ends on March 30.
Panelo said one of the jobs of Congress is to deliberate on whether or not it would grant franchises or renew franchises of any broadcast media.
Asked if the President wants to tackle the franchise bill, he said, "Not that he wants. What he is saying is, because if you noticed commentaries tend to blame him for the impasse and he said, 'I don't have anything to do with it. They should know my character by this time. I do not interfere with their work. Any utterance that I made before the public in relation to ABS-CBN is in connection with what I experienced with them during the elections. They cannot deny me of that'." Celerina Monte/DMS