Tue. May 24th, 2022

MANILA – Solicitor General Jose Calida is expected to attend the House hearing on the proposals seeking to grant a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise to media network ABS-CBN, a lawmaker said Monday.

House legislative franchises committee vice-chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado said the panel will conduct Tuesday’s hearing in a “fair, impartial and comprehensive” manner by inviting several resource persons to discuss all issues for and against the network’s franchise application.

“Other than those who have a material stand for or against the franchise application, the Committee on Legislative Franchises shall also call several resource persons to shed light and provide a general overview of the issues,” Alvarado said.

“This includes the Solicitor General, whom we expect will be present during the hearing tomorrow, without prejudice to the quo warranto case he has filed before the Supreme Court,” he added.

Calida has declined to appear before the Senate hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise, noting that the issues surrounding the matter are part of pending petitions in the Supreme Court.

Alvarado, however, cited Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution and the House rules regarding the conduct of inquiries in aid of legislation, which states that “the filing or pendency of a case before any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial or administrative body shall not stop or abate any inquiry conducted to carry out a legislative purpose.”

“Just like the Members of Congress, I am sure our kababayans would like to hear — and they deserve to hear — what SolGen Calida has to say, instead of just reading or watching about it in the news,” Alvarado said.

The panel, chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, will hold its hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise on Tuesday.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the deliberations by the committee will continue even during the congressional recess.

“They will not stop until they are finished so that no one can say we’re stopping the process or dragging our feet,” Cayetano said in a television interview.

Cayetano said the committee will most likely hold two to three hearings a week, noting that some witnesses and resource persons would be required to physically appear before the committee, provided safe physical distancing and other health protocols are observed.

He said that the panel would look into “no more than 10 issues” in relation to ABS-CBN’s proposed new franchise, including the network’s alleged violations of tax and labor laws, breaches of the terms and conditions of its previous broadcast privilege, and foreign equity issues. (IA/PNA)

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