MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said that the House of Representatives would not be bullied or threatened as it conducts its hearings on media giant ABS-CBN’s full 25-year franchise application.
“This hearing is not just about the network and its franchise. It is also about Congress and how we conduct ourselves. This I will promise, we will listen to the facts as they are presented, and weigh the opinions as they are given,” Cayetano said during the joint House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“But we will not be bullied. We will not be threatened. We will not be ignored nor manipulated by anyone from doing our duty from doing what is right,” he added.
He vowed that the chamber is committed to holding a “fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough examination of all facts” surrounding the franchise issue of the network.
“I, therefore, enjoin all advocates of both sides, those pushing for a 25-year franchise and those who are against… pumunta po kayo dito sa hearings (to attend the hearings). Sabihin niyo ang inyong opinion, present niyo po ang facts (State your opinions, present your facts),” he said.
“Let us hear all sides with an open mind… History will look back at the 18th Congress and will say ‘they stood for what is right’,” he added.
The House committee on legislative franchises, together with the House committee on good government and public accountability, tackled a dozen bills proposing to grant a 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN, as well as the alleged franchise violations of the network.
House committee on good government and public accountability chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado said Solicitor General Jose Calida should be “enjoined to attend future hearings” and explain why he should not be held in contempt for failing to appear before the joint panels.
“Calida has declined to attend the House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise, citing the sub judice rule, which prohibits him “from sharing views and recommendations” on issues surrounding the matter while there are pending petitions in the Supreme Court.
House committee on legislative franchises chair Franz Alvarez directed the committee secretaries to write a letter inviting the Solicitor General to join the next scheduled hearings.
Cayetano, meanwhile, sought leniency for Calida to still be able to deliver his opening statement against ABS-CBN’s franchise in the succeeding hearing.
“Very clear that the champion of exposing the alleged violations of ABS-CBN is Solicitor General,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano earlier noted that the lower chamber would ask the National Telecommunications Commission and the Office of the Solicitor General to explain and present their side in connection with the closure order to shut down ABS-CBN following the network’s franchise expiry on May 4. (ia/PNA)