SC resets deliberation on ABS-CBN petition to August 4

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC resets deliberation on ABS-CBN petition to August 4
A caravan protest in support of the renewal of franchise of media giant ABS-CBN Corp.
The STAR / Felicer Santos

MANILA, Philippines — More than two months have passed since ABS-CBN went off the air in compliance with a government regulatory order but the Supreme Court has yet to resolve its petition and prayer for immediate relief by way of a temporary halt order.

“I was able to briefly confer with Chief Justice [Diosdado] Peralta, and he confirms that the ABS-CBN Corporation petition will be called again for deliberations by the En Banc on August 4, 2020,” SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said in a statement.

By August 4, ABS-CBN, the largest media network in the country with 11,000 employees, would have shut most of its operations for three months.

READ: Citing looming job losses and public's information needs, ABS-CBN reiterates plea to stop NTC order

The SC Public Information Office did not expound why the court failed to resolve ABS-CBN’s Petition for Certiorari filed on May 7 at Tuesday’s en banc session.

ABS-CBN’s petition

The media network ran to the high court to ask for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the implementation of the National Telecommunications Commission’s Cease and Desist Order. ABS-CBN operated on a theory that they can return on air with a TRO.

But since they filed their petition, the high court has only so far asked the NTC, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, and enjoined the Senate and House of Representatives to file their respective comments on ABS-CBN’s plea.

While waiting for relief from the SC, the telecommunications regulatory body has also slapped ABS-CBN with another CDO for Sky Cable Corp.’s Direct broadcast, an ABS-CBN affiliate, and the network’s digital terrestrial television in Metro Manila, which covers the TVPlus service to go off air.

House proceedings

The media network also lost its battle at the House,  where it sought the grant of a fresh legislative franchise, with an overwhelming majority of 70 lawmakers rejecting ABS-CBN’s request.

The development in Congress—which has jurisdiction over the grant of franchises—may have rendered ABS-CBN’s petition moot.

But law professor Theodore Te, also former SC spokesperson, said last week: “I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the Court but mootness is an option but there is always the exception of ‘capable of repetition evading review’ although quite remote.”

Retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion, in his concurring and dissenting opinion on Province of North Cotabato vs the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, recalled the SC used the “capable of repetition but evading review” exception in an earlier case.

He referred to Sanlakas vs Executive Secretary petition in 2004. Brion noted that the SC applied the “capable of repetition but evading review” exception “to prevent similar questions from re-emerging.”

The SC also ruled on the petition, under the same exception, “to lay to rest the validity of the declaration of a state of rebellion in the exercise of the President’s calling our power, the mootness of the petitions notwithstanding.”

Filipino journalists and media advocates slammed the shutdown of ABS-CBN as a blatant attack against the free press in the country.




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