Calida won't attend House panel hearing on ABS-CBN franchise bills
This undated photo shows Solicitor General Jose Calida.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file
Calida won't attend House panel hearing on ABS-CBN franchise bills
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 26, 2020 - 12:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida again declined to attend the House of Representatives’ inquiry into bills for the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN.

In his letter to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), Calida invoked the sub judice rule, which he said prohibits him “from sharing views and recommendations” on issues surrounding ABS-CBN.

“The rule aims to immunize the court form every extraneus influence and to maintain the dignity and authority of the court in the administration of impartial justice,” he said.

Alvarez chairs the House’s Committee on Legislative Franchise that is set to hear the bills proposing the grant of a fresh 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN on Monday afternoon.

Bills seeking inquiry into supposed violations of the network against its franchise law and NTC’s liabilities when it issued the Cease and Desist Order against the network are also on the panel’s agenda. Calida had earlier warned the NTC that it will face graft charges if it will allow ABS-CBN to operate past the expiry of its franchise on May 4.

Calida cited the pendency of his quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN’s now-expired franchise at the Supreme Court, and the network’s Petition for Certiorari filed against the National Telecommunications Commission.

The solicitor general also stressed that he serves as statutory counsel of NTC. Earlier Monday, Calida filed NTC’s comment on ABS-CBN’s petition.

‘Sub judice not valid ground to skip congressional hearing’

When the Senate Committee on Public Services conducted a hearing into bills for ABS-CBN last week, Calida also cited the same rule in declining to attend.

But Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan stressed that “using such a reason that there is a pending case to evade or avoid a congressional hearing is unacceptable.” 

“Otherwise, given all the cases that are pending before various courts against government agencies or its employees, they will all invoke sub judice in order to avoid a Senate hearing,” Pangilinan, president of the minority Liberal Party and who is married to ABS-CBN talent Sharon Cuneta, said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who will preside over the hearing on bills on ABS-CBN’s franchise, said the committee will “mandate them to appear in the next hearing.”

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