With the filing of the quo warranto petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against ABS-CBN Corporation questioning the validity of the said company’s exercise of its legislative franchise, of course, questions arose.
The last time that most people heard the term was the case against former Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and people have been having a hard time relating that case with this one.
What is “Quo Warranto” and why has it involved what appear to be vastly different situation?
Literally, “Quo Warranto” is Latin for “By What Authority?”
As a legal remedy, stated in simple terms, it is a petition filed in court to question the legal authority of a person or legal entity to hold or exercise a public office, a position or a franchise.
It is also a remedy by which someone can raise some act or omission of a public officer that constitutes a ground for him, or her, to lose his/her position and, finally, it can also be use to question the legality by which a group or association is acting as a corporation when it is not properly registered as such.
While it appears that the remedy covers varied situations, the common denominator is simply a question of legal authority or the manner in which that authority is exercised.
The case of former Chief Justice Sereno raised questions about the legal authority by which she held her position by questioning the validity of her appointment to the position as well as alleged defects in her nomination to the position in the first place.
The present petition of the OSG is questioning the legal authority of ABS CBN Corporation to continue to operate its legislative franchise by raising issues with the manner in which the company has exercised, or exceeded, its legislative franchise as well as assertions of violations of the Constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership and management of mass media.
All over tri-media, as well as social media, we have heard experts, or those claiming to be experts, expressing one opinion or another with regards the OSG’s petition ranging from whether or not it is the proper remedy and its effects on the present petition for renewal of the franchise pending in Congress to conspiracy theories as to the intent behind it.
To those who have asked me for my own opinion, I have another Latin phrase for them…. “SUB JUDICE” which literally means “under judgment” which is the rule that restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to the judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice (Marantan v. Diokno, G.R. No. 205956, [February 12, 2014], 726 PHIL 642-650).
As it is, even without the rule, I would still believe that adding yet another voice to the cacophony of opinions already circulating will probably just add confusion rather than clarity to the situation.
Since the case is now pending before the Supreme Court, then the matter should be left for the highest court in the land to decide. Afterwards, whatever decision the court renders will be fair game for analysis, criticism or both.