Senate to hold caucus on proposed probe on ABS-CBN’s franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III will call for a caucus next week to discuss a resolution seeking to look into the compliance of ABS-CBN with its franchise as a public hearing into the issue may violate sub judice rule.
Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, filed a resolution on Wednesday which seeks to look into “the operations of ABS-CBN Corporation to determine compliance with the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act No. 7966.”
But Senator Panfilo Lacson said an inquiry into ABS-CBN’s compliance with its franchise “may be violative of the sub judice rule” since the Supreme Court already asked the network to comment on the quo warranto petition filed against it by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
According to Lacson’s understanding, “the alleged violations of the legislative franchise by ABS-CBN is the meat and substance of the quo warranto petition filed by the SolGen.”
When asked about Lacson’s stand on the matter, Sotto told reporters in a message: “He might be right. I’ll call a caucus on Monday.”
On February 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida personally filed the quo warranto petition seeking to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise due to alleged “highly abusive practices” of the media network giant “benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers.”
ABS-CBN, however, has maintained it did not violate any laws governing its franchise and had secured all necessary approvals for its business operations.
Bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN are currently pending in the House of Representatives.
ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise is set to lapse by March 30, 2020.
In a statement, Poe argued that a hearing on the media giant’s franchise “does not preclude any action in the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court.”
“The issue on subjudice regarding legislative inquiries has long been resolved by the Supreme Court in Sabio vs. Gordon and in the cases that reiterate it: ‘On-going judicial proceedings do not preclude congressional hearings in aid of legislation’,” she said.
She added that her resolution merely “initiates the discussion” on the compliance of the grantee with the terms and conditions of its franchise and would “allow all parties to air their side.”
“This is part of the Senate’s oversight function over any franchise and not just ABS-CBN, as mandated by the Constitution and the Senate Rules,” the senator stressed.
“Due to the gravity of the allegations and its possible effects, the Committee has deemed it appropriate to lay the groundwork for a possible inquiry in the spirit of public interest,” she added.
Edited by KGA
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