SolGen Calida says he’s not meddling in ABS-CBN franchise issue

SolGen Calida says he’s not meddling in ABS-CBN franchise issue

The Solicitor General assures the public that he is not meddling with anything connected to the Lopez controlled ABS-CBN Corporation with respect to Congress when he gave the advise to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in not granting a provisional authority which could have allowed its broadcast operations beyond its expired legislative franchise and while there is a pending bill for its renewal in the House of Representative.

It might be remembered that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called out the Solicitor General Jose Calida when the latter gave an advisory letter to NTC last April 30, “unconstitutionally meddled in the exclusive powers of Congress” and for choosing “to remain silent for close to two months, and on the eve of the opening of Congress, come out with threats to NTC.”

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) made it clear that it did not meddled or influenced the decision that was gave out by the NTC regarding the shutting down of the Lopez controlled station.

SolGen Jose Calida
(photo credit to Manila Bulletin)

“The actions of the Solicitor General show that he is not at loggerheads with Congress,” the OSG said in a statement.

“In his letter dated April 30, 2020, the Solicitor General warned the National Telecommunications Commission of its possible encroachment on legislative power if it issues a provisional authority without a law authorizing such action,” said the OSG, explaining that “warning” or “caution” is not equivalent to making threats to the NTC.

OSG also explains that the advisory letter and its subsequent press releases, never named Cayetano and any lawmaker.

“The April 30, 2020 letter merely formalized the legal advice verbally given to NTC officials before that date regarding the expiration of the media firm’s franchise,” said the OSG.

As regards to the issue of not informing Congress about its advisory letter, the OSG said:
“The Solicitor General could not have notified Congress of his April 30, 2020 letter to NTC without being required to do so, the letter being part of lawyer-client communication,” the OSG explained.
“Actually, the Solicitor General acted with circumspection because voicing out his concerns to Congress without being requested by it would have constituted meddling in its affairs, apart from the fact that the issues he is raising are sub judice,” added the OSG. It said that Calida has a pending quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court (SC) that seeks to nullify the media giant’s old franchise due to alleged violations.

The OSG also pointed out there is “no rule requiring the Solicitor General to give notice to a different branch of government of an internal communication intended for a client in the executive branch.”
“There is no reason for the Solicitor General to pick up a fight with Congress. In fact, he agrees with Speaker Cayetano on the need to conduct an impartial, fair, and thorough investigation to ventilate all issues for or against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise,” the OSG stressed.
“The grant of a legislative franchise is imbued with public interest. It cannot be haphazardly issued. Thus, to issue a provisional franchise to allow ABS-CBN to continue its broadcasting operations without conducting a hearing would amount to Congress acting speedily for the sake of acting speedily, which is a disservice to the Filipino people,” it said.

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Report from Manila Bulletin

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