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Palace won’t meddle in Senate hearing on ABS-CBN franchise

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang will not intrude into the Senate hearing on Monday on the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise and the quo warranto petition seeking to nullify it.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo maintained that the Palace would just let other branches of government perform their jobs and would keep its distance.

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“That’s their (senators) decision. The Palace does not interfere in every move of the House, the Senate,” Panelo said.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said they would invite Solicitor General Jose Calida to appear at the hearing on Monday.

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Calida has filed a quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise due to alleged abuses. He also asked the high court to issue a gag order on ABS-CBN to prevent it from discussing issues pertaining to its franchise.

The President has repeatedly accused ABS-CBN of duping him when the media network allegedly failed to air a paid political advertisement in the 2016 elections.

Poe last week announced that she would go ahead with the hearing despite House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s claim that it would violate the Constitution, which mandated that proposed measures, such as congressional franchises, should be first approved by the House.

But Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, a lawyer, rejected Cayetano’s argument, saying no less than the Supreme Court had previously ruled that the “origination clause” in the Constitution “merely requires the Senate, acting as a body, to withhold any action on a private bill still pending” in the lower chamber.

“There is no violation of the Constitution with regard to the hearing … on the issues surrounding the franchise of ABS-CBN,” Angara said in a Viber message.

The House leadership’s inaction on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise is “bordering on illegality,” according to Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, as he scored Cayetano for dragging his feet on the 11 pending bills despite apparent widespread support from lawmakers.

The former Manila mayor and father of ABS-CBN host Kim Atienza said on Sunday he believed a majority of the House’s 302 members were supportive of the media network’s franchise renewal, but it was the Speaker who was blocking it.

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“[Cayetano] does not want to take it up. The application papers are sleeping in the drawers of the committee on [legislative] franchises,” Atienza said in an interview on dzMM, ABS-CBN’s radio station.

“That to me is bordering on illegality,” he added.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN franchise, Grace Poe, Jose Calida, quo warranto petition, Salvador Panelo, Supreme Court
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