Calida finally attends House hearing, reiterates alleged violations of ABS-CBN
Solicitor General Jose Calida served as the guest of honor in the 67th founding anniversary of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the Camp Crame in Quezon City on February 10, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Calida finally attends House hearing, reiterates alleged violations of ABS-CBN

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - June 1, 2020 - 1:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida finally attended a congressional hearing on issues linked to the ABS-CBN Corp.’s legislative franchise on Monday.

After skipping Senate and House of Representatives’ legislative inquiries in the past weeks, Calida on Monday attended the Committee on Legislative Franchise’s hearing into several bills filed on ABS-CBN’s franchise and supposed violations of the law.

Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, chair of the House’s good government committee, said that Calida and National Telecommunications (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba will be given time to “clarify their alleged interference on the exercise of our mandate.”

Cordoba was earlier asked by the House to explain why he should not be cited in contempt when he did not issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN despite giving his word to the legislative body last March.

Calida, in his opening statement, stressed that he is “not at loggerheads with Congress.”

“I only cautioned NTC of its possible encroachment on the legislative power if it issues provisional authority,” the solicitor general told the panel.

Calida also stressed that he is not allowed “to answer any questions of any matters pending before the Supreme Court.”

The solicitor general has a pending quo warranto petition against the now-expired franchise of the network before the tribunal. He has also represented the NTC, as legal counsel, on ABS-CBN’s petition for certiorari against the regulatory body’s Cease and Desist Order.

The lawmakers assured that the matters that will be asked to Calida and the NTC will “be in aid of legislation only” and would not entail violating the sub judice rule, which restricts commens and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings.

State counsel’s accusations vs ABS-CBN

Calida also reiterated allegations of ABS-CBN’s violations of its franchise law, contained in his quo warranto petition.

 “The pleadings filed by the OSG and its attached documents already bear out the sins of ABS-CBN,” he said. Calida invited the lawmakers to “scrutinize” the documents they submitted to the panel.

READ: Point by point: ABS-CBN answers Solgen Calida's quo warranto petition

He stressed: “In view of this nature as grant form state a legislative franchise is not a right that can be exercised at will and pleasure. Rather it is a privilege subject to regulation under such recognition as the government may see fit.”

“In cases of misuse... or abuse of the franchise, the State ought to reassert its authority and rise as a grantor, regardless of the grantees’ identity and influence,” Calida added.

House invites Gabby Lopez to hearing

Earlier at the hearing, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta said ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III should attend the hearings “as a matter of courtesy.”

Marcoleta said that there are issues that are “personal” to Lopez such as his citizenship. “I hope the representatives of ABS-CBN will find in their heart the importance of being able to motivate him, convince him to be present,” the deputy speaker also said.

Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan, 1st District), panel chair, said they will invite the ABS-CBN executive on the next hearing.

The network has repeatedly addressed the allegations that Lopez is an American citizen.

In a statement on May 11, ABS-CBN stressed that its chairman emeritus is a Filipino citizen, born to Filipino parents.

“The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration have both recognized the Philippine citizenship from birth of Mr. Lopez as contained in Identification Certificate No. 0069 dated 1 October 2002,” it added.

The next House hearing is set on Wednesday morning.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

January 4, 2021 - 4:53pm

Senate President Tito Sotto files a bill renewing the franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN, which went off the air in May.

Sotto's bill seeks to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation, which expired in March 2020, to another 25 years.

"ABS-CBN's wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely calls for the immediate renewal of the network's franchise," Sotto says in his bill.

October 6, 2020 - 2:27pm

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp. is returning to free TV starting Saturday after striking a deal with Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. 

The network announces that "some entertainment shows and movies" it produces will be aired in the "rebranded" A2Z channel 11, formerly Zoe TV, the free TV channel of Jesus Is Lord Church led and founded by Eddie Villanueva.

"A2Z channel 11 will be seen on analog TV in Metro Manila and nearby provinces," the network says.

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