MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday warned that the scheduled Senate hearing on the renewal of broadcasting network ABS-CBN’s franchise would violate the 1987 Constitution.
“Ano ba ang sabi sa Constitution? Saan ba nag-uumpisa ang prangkisa? Sa House or sa Senate? (What does the Constitution say? Where would a legislative franchise emanate? From the House or Senate?),” Cayetano said in an ambush interview.
“Nagtataka lang ako kay Senator Grace Poe at mga Senador kapag Cha-cha (Charter change) pinaguusapan, ayaw nila, wag daw muna pag-usapan, (I am just puzzled by Senator Grace Poe and other senators when they steer clear from tackling Cha-cha), pero (but [on the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise]) they feel free to violate the Constitution,’” Cayetano said.
Cayetano was referring to a constitutional provision stating that “all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.”
A legislative franchise can be categorized as a private bill that applies to a particular individual or group of individuals, or corporate entities, which is in this case, the ABS-CBN.
The Senate Committees on Public Services, Economic Affairs, and Finance–chaired by Senators Poe, Imee Marcos, and Sonny Angara, respectively–are set to hold a joint hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on February 24.
Cayetano assured that ABS-CBN will not shut down despite its impending March 30 expiry, because he sought an arrangement with the National Telecommunications Commission to allow the network to continue its operations.
“Meron po tayong ugnayan sa National Telecommunications Commission na gagawin na habang naghi-hearing kami o habang pending sa amin, hindi magsasara (We already have an agreement with the National Telecommunications Commission that [the ABS-CBN will not shut down] while hearings are ongoing or while the bills are still pending),” he said.
“No one is saying na ‘wag natin pag-usapan. Ang sinasabi ko, ‘pag schinedule ko ngayon for hearing lang, lahat nung energy ng buong Kongreso, diyan mapupunta. Walang mag-aattend nung ibang hearing (No one is saying that we will not tackle it. What I’m saying is if we schedule a hearing now, all of Congress’ energy would be focused on this. No one would attend other hearings),” he added. (iamigo/sovereignph.com/PNA)