MANILA – Despite the warning made earlier by no less than Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the Senate is pushing through with its scheduled hearing on Monday over the franchise renewal of TV network ABS-CBN.
Cayetano claimed the scheduled legislative proceeding of the Senate “is unconstitutional” as matters with regards to legislative franchises must emanate from the Lower House.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other senators countered on Cayetano’s attempt to stop the proceedings of the committee on public services saying such hearings does not violate the Constitution and had been done in previous Congresses without any protest from the House.
Sen. Grace Poe is also vocal in favor of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal efforts, chairs the committee on public services.
SP Sotto explained that “a committee hearing is not the Senate” he said
“A committee report becomes Senate business. Committee chairpersons are authorized to hear what their committee thinks should be heard,” Sotto told Senate reporters.
Sotto added that the Senate has long been holding committee hearings “without any protest parallel hearings on proposed national budgets to save time while the House is also deliberating on it.”
At least 11 franchise renewal bills of ABS-CBN were filled but they are pending in the Lower House.
As such, some senators criticized the House committee on legislative franchises for sitting too long on the network’s application.
The senators averred the delay would give Congress little or no time to have the application go through the process before the franchise expires on March 30.
Speaker Cayetano on Thursday however said “it is the Senate that has been blocking House bills that seek to amend the Constitution while being eager to hear ABS-CBN’s franchise application.”
For his part, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said holding parallel hearings in the Senate on bills that should emanate from the House such as the proposed budget, tax bills and franchise measures and these are all standard parliamentary practice.
“It (parallel hearings) is certainly consistent with the law and parliamentary practice. Where’s the venue of the franchise application mandated to be? It’s supposed to be in Congress right? The Senate and the House of Representatives. So, we have to give them (ABS-CBN) a venue because we’re the ones who’ll approve the franchise,” Pangilinan said. (IAMIGO/sovereignph.com)