MANILA, Philippines — Amid warnings from House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the Senate committee on public services, on Monday proceeded with its own hearing over ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise along with the network’s supposed violations.
The Senate maintained that there is nothing wrong and unconstitutional with the inquiry.
“Madaming gustong pumigil sa pagdinig na ito o kinukuwestiyon ang pagdinig na ito. Naninidigan ang Senado sa kapangyarihan nito bilang kapantay na sangay ng gobyerno,” Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the committee on public services, said adding that “We need to know the truth and we need the public to hear it.”
Poe, along with other committee members present then took turns explaining why the hearing is in order even as they also pointed out why ABS-CBN’s renewal bills are still pending in the House of Representatives.
Last week, Speaker Cayetano warned that the Senate would violate the Constitution should it hold a hearing on ABS-CBN franchise without waiting for the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak during the Senate hearing apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte over a controversial political ad it aired in 2016, maintaining that the network abided by laws and regulations on the airing of such ads.
“We are sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network, we felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak told committee hearing on the network’s franchise.
“Today we want to make a categorical statement that ABS has not and will not have its own political agenda,” Katigbak added.
On Monday, the House also started its proceedings on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
Senate’s counterpart committee also started gathering position papers on the media company’s franchise renewal.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate committee, under its oversight function, may also evaluate complaints or possible violations of franchise.
“By practice, by tradition and by precedence we have discussed and debated on committee level issues on the budget which should emanate from the House as well as tax measures that can be discussed on committee level simultaneously with the House provided that we do not approve committee report ahead of the House,” Zubiri averred.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Constitution “does not prohibit the Senate from hearing a proposed legislation in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the lower house.”
ABS-CBN’s expires on March 30.
“It is for that reason both from the legal and practical standpoint that we’re holding his hearing,” Drilon said.
For his part, Sen. Francis Tolentino, a member of the administration PDP-Laban party, cautioned the hearing may violate the separation of powers.
“The Supreme Court has already assumed jurisdiction of the petition filed by the solicitor general. Dahil meron na isang kasong dinidinig at sumagot na ang ABS-CBN. Hindi ba po kaya tayo ay sasalungat doon sa prinsipyo ng sub judice, separation of powers?” he said. (ISMAEL AMIGO/sovereignph.com)