A reported plan of the state lawyers to file a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court is “a clear signal” that the executive will oppose the extension of the franchise given to media giant, ABS-CBN, a congressman allied with the majority said Thursday.
Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor said any legal action that the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) would do before the SC would likely have the imprimatur of Malacanang.
“The legal action taken by the executive, the OSG representing the Republic, is a step beyond the utterances of Malacanang,” Defensor said in a message to reporters.
The broadcast network’s franchise will expire in March.
Republic Act No. 3846. requires television and radio broadcasters to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress which will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.
“In the hearings to be conducted by the Legislative Franchise Committee, you now have the officers of the ABS-CBN network squared off with the officials of the OSG,” Defensor said.
But even if the Congress approves the renewal, Defensor said that President Rodrigo Duterte “may veto the bill which renders it futile.”
Duterte has repeatedly said that he would block the franchise renewal of the network due to supposed “violations” committed by the media company.
At one point, Duterte even urged the Lopez family, the owner of the company, to just sell it off.
Despite this, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday denied that the president had a hand in the quo warranto petition.
A quo warranto (Latin for “by what warrant or authority?”) is a legal procedure used to challenge an individual’s right to or authority over the position he or she holds.
Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto petition may be filed by an individual or by the government upon the order of the President, against “a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise.”