MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is pushing for the Senate to look into the operation of ABS-CBN Corporation in relation to the allegations of franchise violations, following the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor-General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court seeking for the revocation of the broadcast network’s legislative franchise.
Senator Grace Poe said the investigation will check on the manner that the said media network complied with the terms and conditions stipulated in the franchise that was approved on March 30, 1995.
The Senate Committee on Public Services which Poe chairs will be the one to set the hearing once the House of Representatives has completed its own investigation on the matter.
Several senators expressed their support on Poe’s move.
“‘Yung senate inquiry, iba naman ang pakay. In aid of legislation, para baguhin ang Franchise Law, para baguhin ‘yung mga telecoms at NTC Act,” said Sen. Imee Marcos.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, however, clarified that this hearing is apart from the Senate’s hearing on ABS-CBN’s application renewal which is currently being heard at the Lower House.
He said Poe’s committee’s investigation will just give an input that will help the Senate determine whether or not ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application must be approved.
It will also give the media network the opportunity to set the record straight on the allegations thrown at them.
“This is a good venue para makita natin kung may katotohanan ba talaga ‘yung kanilang mga allegations. This is a check and balance process. Hindi lang naman ABS ang nagpaparenew ng mass media franchise. Ang daming radio stations, nagpaparenew. And this is the check-and-balance power ng Kongreso,” Gatchalian said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also expressed his support, saying, that Congress is the only body that has jurisdiction to review ABS-CBN’s compliance of its franchise and not the Supreme Court.
“I will support Sen. Poe’s reso. Congress, not the Supreme Court, is the body that has jurisdiction to review compliance by ABS-CBN of the terms of the franchise granted by Congress, especially that there are pending bills seeking renewal of franchise,” said Drilon.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, said the matter must be discussed first in a caucus as he believes this might go against the sub-judice rule now that the Supreme Court has given the media network 10 days to give its comment on the Solgen’s petition.
“I will suggest to the SP (Senate President) and our colleagues, we may have to discuss it in caucus first as it may be violative of the sub judice rule, now that the SC has already asked ABS-CBN to file their comment within 10 days,” Lacson said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III will set a caucus on Monday to discuss Poe’s resolution. —(from the report of Harlene Delgado)
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