Poe: Probe ABS-CBN
Sen. Grace Poe has asked the Senate to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into ABS-CBN’s operations to determine if the network complies with the terms of its franchise, which is due to lapse on March 30.
The House of Representatives has so far refused to set a hearing on the bill seeking to renew the franchise of the TV network that has been the target of tirades from President Duterte.
Poe filed a resolution directing the public services committee, which she chairs, to allow the Senate to discuss the matter while waiting for the House to elevate the bill to renew the media giant’s license to air.
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson raised a concern about Poe’s resolution because of the quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court filed this week by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Calida on Feb. 10 sought to void the media conglomerate’s franchise because of what he claimed were certain violations.
Lacson said he would suggest that the Senate discuss Poe’s proposal in caucus as it might violate the high court’s sub judice rule, which prevents parties from discussing publicly the merits of a case.
Poe however believes that a Senate inquiry would not preclude any action in the House or the Supreme Court.
“The issue on sub judice regarding legislative inquiries has long been resolved by the Supreme Court in Sabio vs. Gordon and in the cases that reiterate it: Ongoing judicial proceedings do not preclude congressional hearings in aid of legislation,” she said.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed that there would be no violation of the sub judice rule should the hearing be held.
He said he would back Poe’s resolution because Congress had jurisdiction to review the network’s compliance with the terms of its franchise.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would call a caucus on this matter on Monday.
In Malacanang, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo reiterated that the Palace would not meddle with the Senate plan to probe ABS-CBN’s compliance with the terms of its franchise.
The Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP), meanwhile, joined other reporters’ groups in calling on Congress to “give due course” to the media company’s franchise renewal.
The Defense Press Corps of the Philippines, for its part, said Calida’s petition in the high tribunal was meant to use the country’s laws for “harassment and retribution.”
Reporters covering the Senate also condemned “the brazen attempt to curtail press freedom and the Filipinos’ right to information with efforts to shut down ABS-CBN on flimsy grounds.” With Julie M. Aurelio and Jhesset O. Enano
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