SolGen's Quo warranto vs ABS-CBN is "Lethal"

SolGen's Quo warranto vs ABS-CBN is "Lethal"

It seems there is more than meets the eye in the filing of the Office of the Solicitor General of a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court (SC) asking for the termination of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.
The quo warranto filed before the Supreme Court (SC) against the television giant ABS-CBN could be “lethal” even to other media outlets having Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) owned by foreigners.

Daily tribune had an exclusive interview with former Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, and the latter stressed that the petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida before the SC is a test case.
Solicitor General Jose Calida
(photo credit to owner)

“If the government wins its case before the Supreme Court, all media outlets with the same PDR are disqualified to continue operating their business,” Enrile said.
“That’s how lethal that case is… that’s only a test case (petition versus ABS-CBN). A decision of the SC will become the law of the case, a precedent,” he pointed out.
SolGen Calida in his 63-page petition filed last 10 February presented an argument regarding the use of ABS-CBN of PDR’s, particularly the network’s holding firm ABS-CBN Holdings Corp.

The Solgen argued that the use of such PDR is not only prohibited by the Constitution but “criminal liability is also imposed on those who violate foreign equity restrictions and evade nationalization laws of the Philippines through various modes of proxy arrangement, making it appear as legal, but the entirety of the arrangement is to accomplish a transaction not allowed under Philippine laws.”
Enrile, who is also a former Justice Secretary , supports the argument of SolGen Calida that the use of the PDRs by ABS-CBN is unlawful, stressing the constitutional prohibition for foreigners to own any stake in media companies.
“It is a violation of the Constitution. Under the Constitution, all media outlets must be wholly, fully owned by Filipinos,” Enrile said.
Enrile also quashed the arguments set forth by ABS-CBN regarding the PDR’s that there is nothing wrong since such PDR’s have no voting rights.

“If they are saying that PDR are okay because it has no voting rights, why did not make it as preferred shares? What is the difference with preferred shares of a corporation that have no voting rights also but it is a badge of ownership,” Enrile explained.

Not an issue of Press Freedom

Enrile said the case as against ABS-CBN is not an issue of press freedom - stressing the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media outlets.
“The press freedom is provided in the Constitution with prohibitions…foreign share in a media outlet is a constitutional prohibition. That’s a limitation to press freedom,” he said.

As for the act of the OSG filing the Quo Warranto Petition as against the television giant is not a move to restrain press freedom, but an action “to correct a public wrong” brought about by the violations committed by the network.

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Report from Daily Tribune

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