SC junks Gadon case vs ABS-CBN, but hardly a win for still shut network

Lian Buan
SC junks Gadon case vs ABS-CBN, but hardly a win for still shut network
Larry Gadon's thrown-out petition hardly does anything for the embattled network as its bid to go back on air is still in the pleadings process

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 2, gave lawyer Larry Gadon a dressing down while throwing out his petition against ABS-CBN, but this development has no impact whatsoever on the pressing request of the network to go back on air as soon as possible.

Justices voted 13-0 on Tuesday to dismiss without the need for comment Gadon’s March 5 petition against the House of Representatives leadership. In March, the House and Senate leaderships were in agreement that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) could give ABS-CBN a provisional permit to continue operating after its franchise expires on May 4.

That did not happen as the NTC was pressured by Solicitor General Jose Calida to issue a cease and desist order.

ABS-CBN stopped airing on free channels on May 5, and has been losing up to P35 a million a day since then. The network said that if they cannot go back on air, they may have to start laying off workers by August.

Gadon said on Tuesday he tried to withdraw the petition on May 20, seeing that his request had become moot because ABS-CBN was successfully shut down. 

The en banc did not grant the motion to withdraw, and opted to dismiss the petition with scolding on the side. 

Saying that Gadon had no legal standing, the Supreme Court said “the Petitioner is too distant, his interest is too inchoate and speculative, for this Court to responsibly proceed.”

“Petitioner could have been more circumspect. He will benefit from more restraint and a huge dose of humility,” the Supreme Court added, and told Gadon to take Supreme Court filings seriously.

“Not only will the overeagerness to file border on the contumacious, it also puts in unnecessary peril the legal arguments of the person or entity that has an actual case,” said the Court.

Hardly a win

But this is hardly a win for the embattled ABS-CBN, who had filed a pressing petition before the Supreme Court to stop the shutdown as soon as possible.

ABS-CBN had requested an urgent Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), but justices settled for the procedural act of requiring responses from the NTC, the House and the Senate.

The NTC had already submitted its response.

“The Senate filed a Manifestation in lieu of a Comment. (The House of Representatives) has not submitted any yet,” said Supreme Court Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka.

After both houses of Congress send in their responses, NTC will be given a chance to reply to those too, which can only mean that ABS-CBN will stay off the air longer.

The House of Representatives had begun its hearings on the bills to grant ABS-CBN a renewed 25-year-franchise. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they will decide by August.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition hangs over the head of the network, although Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier said the quo warranto petition is already moot.

In the ABS-CBN case, Calida prevailed over Guevarra once when the NTC chose to follow the solicitor general’s advise to shut down ABS-CBN, when the justice secretary believed they could air while franchise hearings were ongoing.

The quo warranto petition is also still pending before the Supreme Court.

The ABS-CBN case has created a deadlock among the 3 branches of government, with legal experts differing on interpretations on which branch would have the last say. (READ: SC applicants doubt ABS-CBN can get remedy from High Court) – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.