Solicitor General Jose Calida has refused to comment on the possibility that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will grant media giant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise in May.
“I won’t comment on that because it’s before the Supreme Court (SC). There’s a gag order, I was the one who filed that gag order so I will not comment, I will not talk about the merits,” Calida said.
When asked if he will represent the NTC, Calida said, “I will cross the bridge when I see it.”
“Regards to the ABS-CBN,” he said.
The Office of the Solicitor General, which Calida heads, is the government’s legal defender.
Calida had pleaded the Supreme Court to prohibit the parties from publicly discussing the merits of his quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN.
Calida was seeking for the forfeiture of the network’s legislative franchise.
The High Court has not decided on his motion for a gag order.
Earlier this week, the NTC said it will heed the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and of Congress to allow ABS-CBN to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4 and until lawmakers could decide on their application for renewal.
The Senate handed over to NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios on Wednesday an adopted resolution expressing the sense of the chamber that ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries should continue operations pending the deliberation of their franchise renewal.
The NTC said it would issue a provisional authority to operate until June 2022.
However, the power of the NTC to issue a provisional permit has been questioned before the SC.
Lawyer Larry Gadon has filed a petition asking the High Court to stop the NTC from granting a provisional permit to ABS-CBN.
Calida has filed a petition seeking the forfeiture of ABS-CBN’s existing license to operate on allegations of “highly abusive practices” on the part of the network, such as operating a pay-per-view channel purportedly without a government permit and issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners.
ABS-CBN has maintained that it did not violate the law.
Deliberations on the ABS-CBN quo warranto case — the same legal tool Calida used against ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno — will continue on April 14./Stacy Ang