Mabigat itong kaso ng ABS-CBN

Solicitor General Jose Calida gave ABS-CBN a tip that he was going to file a quo warranto case against the media giant three weeks ago. But ABS-CBN merely shrugged it off. Hindi siguro alam ng TV network na marami ng nahukay na ebidensya si SolGen Calida. Its owners had underestimated the ability of Calida to pull the rug from under their feet.

Based on the defenses being put up on social media, ABS-CBN had anticipated the case would be about its tax liabilities. That’s the reason there’s a lot of stuff about ABS-CBN having settled its tax liabilities going around. Calida didn’t even mention taxes; there wasn’t a line about it in his Quo Warranto Petition.

A legislative franchise to operate a TV network carries with it responsibilities for the company, as well as restrictions. ABS-CBN must have thought it could go around the franchise in circles with what Calida described as “corporate layering.” It’s a scheme to disguise the monopolistic practices of the company. Its greed got the better of it.

It was Rappler that first got a taste of the government’s deep probing of media organizations raising foreign capital through PDRs, or Philippine Deposit Receipts. Kapag nahubaran ang hayop na ito, ito ang patunay ng pag-aari ng equity sa isang corporation sa Pilipinas. Media organizations in the country are supposed to be 100% Filipino owned. Ang pag-gamit ng PDR ay pamaraan nila upang maka-ipon ng pera galing sa labas ng bansa.

The case involves culpable violation of the Constitution and our laws. Mabigat itong kaso ng ABS-CBN. It’s not helping itself by embarking on a full-scale propaganda offensive and making it appear this is an assault on press freedom. Corporate misfeasance has nothing to do with press freedom.

ABS-CBN was caught flat-footed on this one. I doff my hat off to Solgen Calida for his mastery of our laws and using it to hold ABS-CBN accountable before the Supreme Court.petition for quo warranto

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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