Poe: Senate panel hearing on ABS-CBN franchise renewal ‘will push through’
MANILA, Philippines — Citing the Senate’s Constitutional mandate, Senator Grace Poe said her committee’s hearing on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN “will push through” despite a motion for the issuance of gag order filed by the government’s top lawyer.
“A motion for a gag order is what it is. Just a motion. The Supreme Court will still have to decide on it under existing laws and all the cases it has decided before recognizing the jurisdiction of its co-equal branch,” Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Whether it will apply the gag order on our hearings is up to the Court to decide but our hearing will push through according to our Constitutional mandate,” she added.
The senator noted that the Supreme Court had previously denied a similar motion for a gag order on its co-equal branch—the Executive branch—on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) cases in 2013.
Poe was referring to the high court’s decision to junk the manifestation filed by former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. to stop then President Benigno Aquino III and his alter-egos from further defending the controversial stimulus program while the petitions assailing its constitutionality are pending.
Syjuco said Aquino had violated the sub judice rule when the latter defended the DAP in a televised speech on October 30, 2013, and was exerting pressure on the High Tribunal ahead of its ruling.
Poe issued this statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the high court to issue a gag order that would prohibit ABS-CBN from discussing the quo warranto petition he earlier filed seeking the nullification of the network’s franchise.
In filing the petition, Calida cited “highly abusive practices” of the network “benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers.”
ABS-CBN, however, has maintained it did not violate any law governing its franchise and that it had secured all necessary approvals for its business operations.
Poe, in a press conference on Monday, said her committee will start deliberating on the franchise of ABS-CBN even as bills seeking for its renewal remain pending at the House of Representatives.