Senate to hear ABS-CBN franchise's renewal, alleged violations on February 24

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Senate to hear ABS-CBN franchise's renewal, alleged violations on February 24
Employees of local broadcast giant ABS-CBN hold lighted candles and placards during a protest in front of the company's building in Manila on February 14, 2020. Philippine government lawyers moved on February 10 to strip the nation's biggest media group of its operating franchise in what campaigners branded a fresh attack on press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is set hear the ABS-CBN’s renewal of legislative franchise and alleged violations of the network on Monday, February 24.

The STAR reported the Senate committee on public services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, will hold its first hearing on Monday, three days before the initially set date of February 27.

Reports quoted Poe as saying Tuesday that they wanted to move the hearing to an earlier date, citing difficulties in securing a venue for the hearing.

This was after Solicitor General Jose Calida had asked the Supreme Court to prohibit parties “and personalities” speaking on their behalf from discussing the merits of his quo warranto petition against the network’s franchise.

Calida filed a Very Urgent Motion for the Issuance of a Gag Order on Tuesday. The SC gave the network and its sister company, ABS-CBN Convergence, five days to answer the solicitor general’s motion.

The Supreme Court will not meet in a full court session until Wednesday, February 26, where they may tackle and rule on Calida’s motion for the issuance of a gag order.

Gag order on resource persons?

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka previously stressed that senators will not be affected if a gag order will be issued as they are not parties to the case.

He, however, refused to comment on whether officials from the network, who may serve as resource persons in the hearing, will be covered by the gag order.

“Let us wait for the order,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Poe earlier said that the issues raised by Calida in his quo warranto plea can be discussed in the Senate hearing on franchise renewal. 

“We can scrutinize the qualification of those who are applying for a franchise,” she said in Filipino, adding that there are many who wish to be enlightened on allegations against ABS-CBN.

The Senate hearing will be conducted ahead of the transmission of the counterpart bill from the House of Representatives. — with report from The STAR/Paolo Romero

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