Panel hearing on ABS-CBN franchise will not violate Constitution – senators
MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s claim, senators on Friday insisted that the upcoming hearing of the Senate public services committee on ABS-CBN’s franchise would not go against the Constitution.
On Thursday, Cayetano said that franchise bills should emanate from the lower chamber, thereby indirectly suggesting that the Senate panel hearing on the network’s franchise renewal would violate the Constitution.
The committee headed by Senator Grace Poe has scheduled its first hearing on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN on Monday while the House has yet to act on pending bills before it.
Poe though said that her panel would not yet release a report until a similar measure is approved by the House and the transmitted to the upper chamber.
“A committee hearing is not the Senate. A committee report becomes Senate business. Committee chairpersons are authorized to hear what their comm thinks should be heard. It remains their comm business,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in a message.
Asked whether the said hearing set next week would violate the Constitution, Sotto said: “Not at all.”
“Besides, the hearing is focused on the resolution filed regarding ABS-CBN, not whether we should approve its franchise or not,” he added.
Cayetano earlier also questioned why the Senate is supposedly evasive when it comes to tackling charter change but is willing to tackle the franchise issue of ABS-CBN.
“Nagtataka lang ako kay Senator Grace Poe at sa mga senador. Kapag Cha-cha ang pinag-usapan, ayaw nila. Wag daw muna pag-usapan. Pero they feel free to violate the Constitution,” Cayetano earlier told reporters.
(I’m baffled by Senator Grace Poe and the senators. When it comes to charter change, they’re evasive. They don’t want to discuss it yet. Yet they feel free to violate the Constitution when it comes to the franchise issue.)
While Senator Panfilo Lacson agreed with Cayetano’s assertion that local bills, like those seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, should first emanate from the lower chamber, the senator said the Speaker was “wrong in equating it to the (Cha-Cha) issue.”
“Speaker Cayetano may have a point since the Constitution provides that bills of local application like franchise measures must emanate from the HOR (House of Representatives). He is wrong in equating it to the cha-cha issue though since as practiced, we conduct committee hearings on tax and budget measures even before the HOR has transmitted their approved version of bill to the senate,” Lacson said in a separate text message.
“What can be considered as blatantly violative of the constitution is if the committee chairperson reports out on the senate floor for plenary debates the committee report which we have not done and will never do,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan said that it is a “standard parliamentary practice” for both chambers of Congress to hold parallel hearings on bills tackling the budget, tax reforms, or legislative franchises.
“As former majority leader… holding parallel hearings in the Senate on bills that should emanate from the HoR such as the budget bill, tax bills or franchise measures is standard parliamentary practice for decades now,” he said.
“It is certainly consistent with the law and parliamentary practice,” Pangilinan added.
Edited by EDV
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