Solicitor General Jose Calida. (File photo)

MANILA – Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday said ABS-CBN Corp. should remain off the air after the Supreme Court (SC) declared moot the quo warranto petition filed by his office against the network.

In a statement, Calida said his office is yet to receive a copy of the ruling and will consider its options once they receive the same.

“The OSG has not yet received a copy of the SC decision. Once a copy of the decision has been obtained, the OSG will study the possibility of filing a motion for reconsideration, if necessary, given the constitutional issue on foreign ownership raised in the OSG petition,” it pointed out.

He, however, said ABS-CBN must remain shut off since the cease and desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) remains valid because of an expired franchise.

“It must be noted that in its Cease and Desist Order (CDO) issued on May 5, 2020, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) directed ABS-CBN to stop operating its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide absent a valid Congressional Franchise required by law,” he said.

The network, along with its other channels and radio stations, voluntarily went off the air on the evening of May 5.

He said the network can resume broadcast operations once the high court issues a temporary restraining order against the NTC’s move.

On Tuesday, the SC dismissed the petition for quo warranto filed against ABS-CBN Corp. on the ground of mootness after it voted unanimously to dismiss the OSG’s petition because the network’s franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. has already expired.

The high court, however, did not touch the issues on the case of ABS-CBN Convergence.

Calida claimed that ABS-CBN has been broadcasting for a fee, which is beyond the scope of its legislative franchise.

The OSG has attached the documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would show that ABS-CBN Corp. has committed a violation that Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) must be sold only to Filipinos.

It has stated that ABS-CBN Corp. shares were transferred to ABS Holdings, which later on issued financial securities in the form of PDRs, which were then issued to both Filipino and non-Filipino nationals.

In its quo warranto petition, the OSG bared that Singaporean firm Prudential Singapore Holdings Pte. Limited “is a deemed substantial holder of 15,656,570 PDRs” issued by ABS-CBN Holdings.

It added that Mercury Media Holdings Ltd. also purchased PDRs issued by ABS-CBN Corp. worth PHP2.3 billion.

Mercury Media Holdings Ltd. is an affiliate of the US-based Capital Group of Companies, one of the world’s largest investment management organizations.

Under the Constitution, media entities must be 100-percent owned by Filipinos and its PDRs must be sold only to Filipinos.

The OSG added that ABS-CBN Corp. allegedly “violated the terms of franchise by offering Pay Per View Channels via TV Plus”, which is supposed to be used for free by the public.

TV Plus is being sold in the market by ABS-CBN for a fee. (PNA)

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