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

02-Jun-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

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 “scrutinise” the documents they submitted to the panel.

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 chair 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 chair emeritus is a Filipino citizen, born to Filipino parents.

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

The next House hearing is set on Wednesday morning.


Category: Philippines

Print This Post