By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday urged Congress to hasten the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation to ensure that its service to the people is not hampered especially during the time of a COVID-19 crisis.
“Hindi matatawaran ang naging serbisyo ng ABS-CBN sa ating bayan sa buong panahon na sila ay nabigyan ng franchise ng ating gobyerno. (One cannot discount the public service rendered by ABS-CBN to our nation the whole time they were given a franchise by our government),” De Lima said in a statement.
“Lalo pa natin silang kailangang manatili sa pamamahayag ngayong panahon ng COVID-19 pandemic kung kailan napakahalaga na makarating ang impormasyon sa ating mga kababayan. (We need them to stay in the media industry especially now that we are experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic since it is very important to share more information to our people),” the detained senator stressed.
“I urge my colleagues in Congress to hasten the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN to ensure that their service to our people is not hampered during these trying times. Kailangan natin magtulong-tulong para malampasan ang delubyong ito na nararanasan ng ating bayan (We need to help each other out to overcome this catastrophe our nation is facing),” she reiterated.
De Lima, likewise, slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for threatening to sue the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and its commissioners if they will issue provisional authorities to ABS-CBN and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.,
The senator said such threat “is an absolute violation of his duty as the statutory lawyer” of NTC.
“This would be the second time in which the Office of the Solicitor General under Mr. Calida acted against its client’s interest,” she said.
Prior to this, De Lima noted Calida himself issued an unsolicited legal opinion stating that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) are not subject to income tax in the Philippines.
Because of this, De Lima said POGOs are using Calida’s opinion to fend off collection efforts by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “to the prejudice of our country.”
In threatening the NTC, De Lima said the Solicitor General also belittled and contradicted the official position of the Department of Justice, Senate and House of Representatives, that there is sufficient basis to allow the continued operation of ABS-CBN while the bills to extend their franchise are pending in Congress.
“Lawyers must be advocates of their clients. Mr. Calida’s action smacks of conflict of interest and is a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility,” she pointed out.
The former justice secretary said Canon 17 of the Code states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
De Lima said Calida should be dismissed from service for publicly going against OSG’s clients and disbarred for his misconduct.