Mindanao Times

SC cannot be stopped in case vs TV network


MANILA -- Two senators said Congress cannot stop the Supreme Court from hearing the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General against ABSCBN Corporatio­n, even if Congress has the mandate to grant or renew legislativ­e franchises.

In a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the two issues “is a matter of different jurisdicti­ons.”

“The quo warranto petition is under the original jurisdicti­on of the Court. Approval or renewal of legislativ­e franchise is the jurisdicti­on of both houses of Congress,” he said. “As such, I see no conflict in jurisdicti­ons.”

The veteran lawmaker cited the case of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom the SC removed from office in 2018 through a quo warranto plea filed by the OSG over her alleged failure to fully disclose her wealth when she applied for the Supreme Court’s top post in 2012.

Sereno was ousted from office despite an ongoing impeachmen­t case against her in Congress.

Lacson explained that

under Art VIII, Sec 5, Paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constituti­on, the Supreme Court exercises original jurisdicti­on over a petition for quo warranto filed by the state through the Office of the Solicitor General.

Under the said provision, Lacson said Solicitor General Jose Calida cannot be prevented from filing the petition against the broadcast network, but “Congress is likewise not prevented from exercising its powers under the same Constituti­on to act on the applicatio­n for renewal or a new franchise which is now pending before the House of Representa­tives.” ‘Separate powers’ Senator Grace Poe expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the judiciary and Congress have separate powers.

“Lest we preempt the court from deciding the case on its own merit, these issues are questions of facts which must be resolved by the court,” she said in a separate statement. “I trust that the court will decide on the basis of fairness and for the interest of the greatest number of people”.

But the chairperso­n of the Senate Committee on Public Services also pointed out that as the Constituti­on mandates “the Senate’s jurisdicti­on over franchises remains despite the existence of the petition.”

Thus, Poe said she intends to tackle the issues concerning ABS-CBN’s franchise “in a fair and a deliberati­ve manner.”

Poe admitted, however, that her panel could not deliberate on the franchise until the House of Representa­tives finishes its own deliberati­ons.

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