By Jesus Falcis
As seen on the March 2020 issue of Philippine Tribune
We all know that ABS-CBN’s franchise or authority to operate a television network will expire by end of March, 2020.
We all know that President Duterte hates ABS CBN and he controls Congress with his super majority allies and surrogates.
The House of Representatives, through its franchise committee chairman Cong. Franz Alvarez and the Speaker of the House Alan Peter Cayetano, is sitting on bills that would renew the franchise. No hearing has been calendared to even start the legislative process.
Only a few weeks are left to pass a franchise bill. And we all know that passing a law takes time. The House has to pass it. The Senate has to pass it. The President has to sign it (or sit on it). And the President can veto it. And then the law has to be published in newspapers for the law to take effect.
So ABS-CBN’s chances of getting its franchise renewed by end of March, 2020 is as good as dead.
Then why file a quo warranto case?
Unbeknownst to many Filipinos, even if ABS-CBN’s franchise expires, it can secure a temporary authority up to a maximum of two years from the National Telecommunications Commission based on the law that granted the franchise.
This is what the Duterte administration wants to prevent.
And make no mistake about it, Solicitor General Calida represents Duterte’s wishes. No amount of denial from Secretary Panelo and the Cabinet can convince people otherwise.
From Chief Justice Sereno’s quo warranto to the OSG’s participation in the filing of sedition charges against the opposition because of the Bikoy videos, Calida’s moves bear the stamp of approval and design of the Duterte administration.
And more than preventing ABS-CBN from trying to secure a 2-year temporary authority from the NTC, the quo warranto move is to pre-empt any possibility that ABS-CBN secures an extension from Congress.
You see, the situation in Congress is complicated in that the leadership (Alan Peter Cayetano) is against the renewal but many individual legislators support it (especially those who came from showbiz).
By filing a quo warranto, the Duterte administration wants to treat ABS-CBN’s existence as null and void from the very beginning. This is similar to how they unjustly erased CJ Sereno’s contribution to the judiciary.
Further, the Duterte administration wants to make its case in the media through coverage of the quo warranto case. They will continue to spew out the fake news of ABS-CBN’s “violations” such as not paying taxes and not airing the advertisements of Duterte and Cayetano.
Now, we have to wait and see how the Supreme Court will act to uphold its role as the last bulwark of democracy. The composition of the SC has changed. The justices appointed by Gloria Arroyo have all retired. There is hope and we can only hope.
If ABS-CBN falls, this administration will continue to feel emboldened to do whatever it wants with impunity against who it perceives to be its enemies.
You did not speak up for Rappler because you did not work for it.
You did not speak up for ABS CBN because you did not work for it.
You did not speak up for the media because you are not a journalist.
When they come for you, will there be anybody to speak up for you?
What is the meaning of Quo Warranto?
In British and American common law, quo warranto (Medieval Latin for “by what warrant?”) is a prerogative writ requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold.