File photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte and presidential spokesman and chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.
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Palace: Quo warranto plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise won't end in constitutional crisis
Alexis Romero ( - January 19, 2020 - 5:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Sunday disputed the claim that there would be a constitutional crisis if the Supreme Court decides to cancel the franchise of television network ABS-CBN because of a petition filed by state lawyers.

Previous reports claimed that the Office of the Solicitor General would file a quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to revoke the franchise of broadcast giant. The reports surfaced weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte, who had accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting and swindling, vowed to block the renewal of the network's franchise, which will expire in March.

Media groups have condemned the supposed plan to seek the revocation of the franchise, calling it a threat to press freedom. Last Saturday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson warned that a quo warranto petition against the Lopez-owned network's franchise could lead to a "constitutional crisis" because the power to renew legislative franchises lies with Congress.

But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo disagreed, saying the renewal of franchise and running after the violations of its terms and conditions are two different things.

"There is none. Why would there be a constitutional crisis?" Panelo said in a radio interview.

"The franchise coming from Congress is different from the violations of the (terms and conditions of the) franchise... Both can independently be taken together," he added.

Panelo insisted that the OSG has the responsibility to run after those who broke the law.

"With due respect to my good friend Senator Lacson, he's not a lawyer. He should have consulted the matter with his lawyers first. The (Solicitor General) has the duty to file cases against those who violated the law," he added.

Panelo also revealed that the supposed unpaid taxes of the Lopez family, the owners of ABS-CBN, is one of the grounds for the filing of the case against the network's franchise.

When reminded that ABS-CBN already has compromise agreements with the tax bureau, Panelo said the deals did not happen during the presidency of Duterte.

"Kasi kung nangyari 'yan sa mga nakaraan ibig sabihin may na namang mga sabwatan diyan (If it happened in the past then there was conspiracy involved)," the Palace spokesman said.

Duterte has accused ABS-CBN of swindling for allegedly refusing to return the money he paid for campaign commercials even if the advertisements did not air. He has also claimed that the Lopez family has debts with the state-run Development Bank of the Philippines. 

Research by revealed that ABS-CBN and its units have entered into four compromise agreements with the tax bureau since 2018, all of them approved by the Court of Tax Appeals.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 5, 2020 - 11:42am

President Duterte threatens not to renew ABS-CBN's franchise, his latest in what critics call a string of verbal attacks against dissenting media.

March 5, 2020 - 11:42am

Labor unions with Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino will march to the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City on Friday, March 6, in a show of solidarity with the network's employees and talents, BMP says in a release.

Among those marching will be union members from St. Luke’s Medical Center Bonifacio Global City and University of Santo Tomas Hospital, who BMP says "will extend their support and called on the Duterte administration to protect the workers facing job insecurity."

BMP "calls on workers to unite against the threat of unemployment as it may lead to desperate and futile actions such as the hostage-taking by former security guard Alchie Paray, which could only amplify the sorry plight of contractual workers but would not put an end to the anti-labor scourge of contractualization."

March 4, 2020 - 3:42pm

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announces that the House committee on franchises will start a hearing on the legislative franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN on March 10.

The hearing is set four days before the lower chamber of Congress goes on a recess on March 14. ABS-CBN's franchise will expire on May 4.

February 27, 2020 - 4:38pm

The House of Representatives missed its chance to lead the initiative to renew the ABS-CBN franchise, a think tank says.

"Today it can be said: The entire Duterte establishment except Congress has already endorsed the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise. Its major pillars are now openly supporting the renewal for the sake of the network’s employees —Senator Bong Go and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte," Terry Ridon of Infrawatch PH says. 

"President Rodrigo Duterte has also declared that the onus is on no one else but Congress. There is thus absolutely no more reason for Congress to delay deliberations. It is now time to decide whether to approve or reject the franchise. It has dropped the ball far too long, and it is now time to pick it up," Ridon a former House member and member of the panel on legislative franchises, says.

February 27, 2020 - 3:48pm

Media giant ABS-CBN says they are grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for accepting their apology.

"We will coordinate with the President's office as it relates to his guidance on donating the refund to a charitable institution," the Kapamilya network says.

"ABS-CBN remains to becoming a better organization and to provide a more meaningful service to Filipinos," it adds.


February 27, 2020 - 1:47pm

The Department of Justice tells the National Telecommunications Commission that "there is sufficient equitable basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of their respective franchise remain pending with Congress."

The NTC earlier sought guidance from the Justice department on the congressional franchise of ABS-CBN.

News5 reports that DOJ's legal guidance, signed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, adds that a "more stable legal environment could be created if Congress, by a concurrent resolution, would authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority to these broadcasting companies."

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