Councilor Duron: ABS CBN violated its franchise

By Limuel S. Celebria

Media giant ABS-CBN was in violation of its franchise and the Philippine Constitution insofar as the fundamental law’s requirement that mass media must be 100 percent owned by Filipinos.

In a privileged speech delivered during last Tuesday’s regular session of the city council,  Councilor Romel D. Duron, chairman of the City Council Committee on Franchises, forwarded the view that ABS CBN was in violation of the Constitutional constraint on ownership when it issued Philippine Depository Receipts to foreign firms such as Eastspring Corp of Singapore and PCD, an American firm. Duron described the PDR as “a security which grants the right to the delivery of the sale of an underlying share.”

He further pointed out that while the Philippine Stock Exchange considers PDRs as not evidence or statements of ownership of a corporation per se, each PDR represents a share and a PDR holder has a right to all the dividends of the underlying shares of stock a acquired through PDRs. Records show that 22% of ABS CBN issued PDRs are held by foreign firms in violation of the Constitutional fiat on media ownership.

Citing a legal maxim: What cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly, Duron said ABS-CBN violated its franchise.

Duron anchored his speech on the Quo Warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN whose franchise is up for renewal by Congress after it expires in March this year. President Rodrigo Duterte has openly expressed his opposition to the renewal.

“There is enough basis for the Quo Warranto petition,” Duron said. Contrary to views that the petition was hastily filed, Duron described the 63-page petition as “well researched, properly documented, and based on fact established no less by documents issued by ABS CBN and submitted to government offices such as the Securities Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.”

He also it is established jurisprudence that a Quo Warranto petition serves as a perfect instrument to examine alleged violations of franchises. “Abuse of a franchise is a public wrong and not a private injury,” he pointed out. “Forfeiture of a franchise has to be declared in a direct proceeding for the purpose brought by the State because a franchise is granted by law and its unlawful exercise is primarily a concern of government.”


Gambling in wakes

“In our country, gambling during wakes is not just a past time but a tradition.”

This was stressed by Councilor Carlos “Jojo” Javellana in another privileged speech Tuesday at the Iloilo City Council. Javellana, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Police Matters, Public Safety, Order and Security, delivered the speech in the wake of disturbing reports that the local police will stop all gambling activities even during wakes.

Javellana noted that gambling during wakes is an essential means for poor families to help defray funeral expenses. He even cited UP sociology professor Randy David who observed that gambling during wakes served several purposes: it I not just a way of keeping mourners around but also a means to generate funds which help to alleviate funeral and burial expenses.

Thus, by age-old practice and tradition, gambling during wakes is tolerated by authorities.

Javellana said he met with outgoing City Police Chief Col. Martin Defensor that the city police “will not touch gambling during wakes as long as this is exercised in moderation.