- Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case against ABS-CBN.
The Office of the Solicitor General led by Atty. Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise through a Quo Warranto petition.
In a statement after filing the case, Calida said ABS-CBN has violated their franchise when it started their pay-per-view channel KBO on their ABS-CBN TV Plus.
“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.
Calida also alleged violation of the network in issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) similar to the Rappler‘s case. And its subsidiary ABS-CBN Converge which according to him resorted to an “ingenious corporate layering scheme” to transfer its franchise “without the necessary Congressional approval.”
“The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., must be revoked. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws.
“It also failed to publicly offer any of its outstanding capital stock to any securities exchange within the Philippines within five years from the start of its operations, which is an indispensable condition in its franchise,” Calida added.
Quo warranto is a government remedy used to challenge “the usurpation of a public office, position or franchise,” according to Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.
It may be filed against “a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise; a public officer who does or suffers an act which, by the provision of law, constitutes a ground for the forfeiture of his office; or an association which acts as a corporation within the Philippines without being legally incorporated or without lawful authority so to act.”
ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire in March 2020.
Currently, there are 11 bills filed in Congress seeking to renew the media company’s franchise.
Meanwhile, immediately after breaking the news about SolGen’s quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, the media giant issued their statement condemning the OSG’s efforts to shut down the network.
In their statement, the Kapamilya network reiterated that they did not violate any law and that all issued raised by the OSG were all compliant with the rules and regulations set by the proper agencies.
In conclusion, ABS-CBN said they are still committed to serving Filipinos by delivering timely and information about current situations in the country and those concerning Filipinos overseas.
STATEMENT OF ABS-CBN ON OSG’S QUO WARRANTO PETITION: WE DID NOT VIOLATE THE LAW
The Office of the Solicitor General’s filing of a quo warranto case against ABS-CBN on alleged violations of its franchise appears to be an effort to shut down ABS-CBN to the serious prejudice of millions of Filipinos who rely on the network for news, entertainment and public service.
These allegations cited by the Office of the Solicitor General in his press statement are without merit. ABS-CBN complies with all pertinent laws governing its franchise and has secured all necessary government and regulatory approvals for its business operations.
(1) All our broadcast offerings, including KBO, have received the necessary government and regulatory approvals and are not prohibited by our franchise.
(2) ABS-CBN Holdings’ Philippine Deposit Receipts or PDRs were evaluated and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange prior to its public offering. These are the same instruments used by other broadcast companies to raise capital for the improvement of services.
(3) The ownership of ABS-CBN in ABS-CBN Convergence was undertaken under the same law and structures that have been utilized by other telecommunications companies. These are transfers that are approved under the Public Telecommunications Policy Act and are fully compliant with law.
We reiterate that everything we do is in accordance with the law. We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN.
KBO remains one of the cheapest forms of entertainment that we can provide to the public. The capital we have raised from the PDRs has enabled us to provide services to nearly 90 percent of the Philippines and to our OFW’s all over the world. Our work with ABS-CBN Convergence supports the government policy of finding ways to bring down the cost of internet access.
The Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Executive Branch have assured the public that our franchise will be allowed to go through the proper renewal process in a fair manner. To that end, the filing of the quo warranto case is ill-timed given that Congress has already resumed its session.
We remain committed to our mission to serve the Filipino people especially at this time when millions of Filipinos rely on our services in delivering information such as the 2019 NCoV ARD, the developments in the Middle East, and updates on Taal Volcano situation as they relate to our countrymen.