SolGen move to gag ABS-CBN won’t stop Senate from probing franchise issue —Drilon

Robie de Guzman
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said that the move by the Office of the Solicitor General asking the Supreme Court to gag the ABS-CBN Corporation will not stop the Senate from requiring persons to appear and testify during its hearing on the issue.

“The Supreme Court cannot prohibit persons to appear and testify before congressional inquiries in aid of legislation,” Drilon said in a statement.

“The petition cannot prevent the Senate from hearing the issues on ABS-CBN. The petition has no effect on the Senate,” he added.

Drilon issued the statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the SC to stop ABS-CBN and other parties concerned from discussing the quo warranto petition which seeks to void the broadcasting network’s franchise over its alleged violations.

Calida’s move follows the decision of the Senate committee on public services to hear the issue on ABS-CBN’s application for the renewal of its franchise, and the filing of a Senate resolution which seeks to extend the validity of the company’s franchise until the end of 2022.

ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise is set to expire on March 30, 2020.

Drilon said that even if the Supreme Court issues a gag order, it will not cover the hearings in the Senate.

“Such gag order, if ordered, cannot serve as a prohibition for ABS-CBN to appear and testify before the Senate panel,” he said.

He also emphasized that the Constitution and various jurisprudence have many times upheld the power of the Senate to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation and to exercise its oversight power.

The senator cited Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which states that the Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure.

He also stressed that it is the duty of the witnesses and resource persons to cooperate with the Senate in its efforts to obtain the facts needed for intelligent legislative action.

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