House postpones ABS-CBN franchise hearings to June 29
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has postponed the hearings on the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN until next week.
This is to give more time for the media network and other agencies concerned to submit needed documents and allow lawmakers to scrutinize such documents, House legislative franchises panel chair Franz Alvarez said on Monday.
The next hearing will be on June 29.
“Next Monday [is the next hearing]. We need more time [to] submit documents and [study the] documents,” Alvarez told reporters in a text message.
The House panels on good government and public accountability and legislative franchises are supposed to continue its probe on the network’s franchise on Tuesday and Wednesday. The panels have so far conducted six installations of the inquiry into the ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza earlier dubbed the House inquiry on the ABS-CBN franchise a “fishing expedition,” adding it had been among the lengthiest legislative exercises in the chamber.
Atienza accused some of his colleagues of refusing to listen to “duly authorized” government agencies, which have already cleared the network from any constitutional violations.
He also criticized other lawmakers’ line of questioning as it shifts the burden of proof to ABS-CBN. Further, he pointed out that franchise renewal hearings should not be “investigative” and “prosecutorial.”
To push the hearings along, Atienza said Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano can nudge the majority of the lawmakers in the lower chamber to put ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal to a vote.
The House has been tackling the franchise of ABS-CBN, which expired last May 4.
ABS-CBN went off-air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against the network, citing lack of franchise.
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