Drilon: Senate can look into ABS-CBN franchise compliance

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asserted that the Senate can look into the compliance of the broadcast network ABS-CBN with the terms of its legislative franchise amid moves by the Office of the Solicitor General to file charges before the Supreme Court for its alleged franchise violations.

In a statement, Drilon insisted that in exercise of its oversight function, “the Congress, not the Supreme Court 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 the franchise.”

“Given the gravity of the allegations against ABS-CBN and its implications, it would be a total disservice to the Filipino people if we fail to perform our oversight function,” he added.

The lawmaker backed Senator Grace Poe who earlier filed Senate Resolution 322 which seeks to review ABS-CBN’s compliance with its franchise following the allegations made by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Drilon said that while reviewing the network’s compliance with its franchise, the Senate could look into the allegations raised by the Solicitor General that ABS-CBN violated the terms of its legislative franchise.

“The hearings on the resolution can also be justified not only based on its oversight function but also by virtue of its power to investigate in aid of legislation – the investigation will enable the Senate to make a judgment on the proposed renewal of its franchise when it is transmitted by the House of Representatives,” he said.

The senator, however, clarified that taking up Senate Resolution 322 would not be a violation of the sub-judice rule, adding that under the resolution, the Senate is “simply being called to exercise its oversight functions.”

“Broadly defined, the power of oversight embraces all activities undertaken by Congress to enhance its understanding of and influence over the implementation of legislation it has enacted,” Drilon said. “The Congress is a co-equal branch that is simply performing its mandated and independent oversight functions.”

He also said that as the one that granted the franchise to ABS-CBN, “the Congress can carry out its oversight functions at any point in time.”

“Our role does not end with enacting laws. We have constitutional duty to monitor compliance with the law that Congress enacted,” he added.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday (February 11) directed the ABS-CBN to respond to Calida’s quo warranto petition within the period of 10 days.

The media giant has earlier denied the accusations, maintaining that it did not violate the law and has no outstanding tax liability.

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