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Duterte pushes Lopezes to the brink, Calida files quo warranto case vs ABS-CBN

Duterte pushes Lopezes to the brink, Marcos loyalisy Calida files quo warranto case vs ABS-CBN

Less than two months before the expiration of the franchise ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., President Rodrigo Duterte has tightened the noose on the Lopez family’s media empire.

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a “very urgent omnibus motion” the Supreme Court Monday, February 10, seeking to pull the plug off ABS-CBN and its digital media arm.

“The Republic instituted this petition for quo warranto under Section 5 (1) Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution and Rule 66 of the Rules of Court against ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN convergence as they are unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Act No. 7966 and Republic Act No. 8322,” based on the opening page of the case.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” said Calida in a statement.

Calida said ABS-CBN went beyond the scope of its legislative franchise when it started charging for its free TV broadcast, specifically ABS-CBN TV C Plus and KBO Channel, without prior approval from the National Telecommunications Commission.

Calida said ABS-CBN did this behind an “elaborately crafted corporate veil” which allowed foreign investors to take part in the ownership of a Philippine mass media entity.

Calida said just like in the case of Rappler, ABS-CBN issued Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) to facilitate the entry of foreigners.

In the case of ABS-CBN Convergence, Calida said the Lopezes “resorted to an ingenious corporate layering scheme in order to transfer its franchise without the necessary Congressional approval.”

“It also failed to publicly offer any of its outstanding capital stock to any secrutities exchange within the Philippi es within five years from the start of its operatons, which is an indispensible condition in its franchise,” it added.

AS-CBN’s franchise will expire on 30 March 2020 and Duterte has reportedly asked the House committee on franchise not to hold any hearing for bills seeking an extension on the life of the country’s biggest media firm.

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