Senators ‘feel free to violate Constitution’ in hearing ABS-CBN franchise – Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday insisted that the franchise bills should emanate from the House as the Senate is set to tackle ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Senator Grace Poe earlier said that the Senate committee on public services would start deliberating on the network’s franchise even without prior action from the House of Representatives provided that she would not yet release a committee report on the matter.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 24.
But Cayetano said that franchise bills should emanate first from the House of Representatives.
“Nagtataka lang ako kay Senator Grace Poe at sa mga senador. Kapag Cha-cha (Charter change) ang pinag-usapan, ayaw nila. Wag daw muna pag-usapan. Pero they feel free to violate the Constitution,” Cayetano told reporters. (I’m baffled by Senator Grace Poe and the senators. When it comes to Cha-cha, they’re evasive. They say ‘don’t discuss it yet.’ Yet they feel free to violate the Constitution when it comes to the franchise issue.)
“Ano ba sabi sa Constitution? San ba mag-uumpisa ang prangkisa? Sa House o sa Senate?” the House Speaker added. (What does the Constitution say? Where should matters about franchise emanate from? The House, the Senate?)
Still no scheduled hearing
As many as 11 bills are pending in the lower chamber seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Republic Act No. 3846 requires television and radio broadcasting companies to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress that will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.
However, despite the calls from a number of lawmakers for the House committee on legislative franchises to tackle the issue, hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise remains unscheduled.
“No one is saying wag natin pag-usapan. Ang sinasabi ko, pag ini-schedule ito for hearing, lahat ng energy ng buong Kongreso, diyan mapupunta. Walang a-attend ng ibang hearing,” Cayetano said.
(No one is saying let’s forgo the discussion. What I’m saying is if we set the hearing now, Congress would spend so much of its time and energy on this matter. No one would attend the other House hearings.)
Asked when the “right timing” will be to hear ABS-CBN’s franchise, Cayetano said it’s July or August.
“Hindi ito teleserye na magandang bitin. Kung maghi-hearing tayo ng dalawang linggo at kulang yang oras tapos magre-recess tayo o kahit hindi mag-recess o during recess mag-hearing, hindi mo naman maidadala sa plenaryo, walang mangyayari,” Cayetano said.
(This is not a teledrama series that should have engaging suspense. If we hold a two-week hearing and run out of time and call a recess or defer the recess, still we can’t move this to the plenary. Nothing would happen.)
“Unlike teleserye na lamang ang network kapag maganda ending at medyo bitin, hinahanap-hanap mo yung season 2 e diba? Pero dito sa Kongeso, in my experience mas mabuti na inumpisanahan natin tapusin na natin,” he added.
(Unlike the teledrama series, we can’t have a season 2 if the show becomes a hit. In my experience it’s better to have no unfinished business.)
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