Senators maintain nothing wrong, unconstitutional with ABS-CBN franchise hearing

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Senators maintain nothing wrong, unconstitutional with ABS-CBN franchise hearing
This Feb. 24, 2020 photo shows executives of ABS-CBN Corp. attending the Senate hearing on the broadcasting giant's franchise.
The STAR / Paolo Romero

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel proceeded with its own hearing on the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. and the network’s supposed violations Monday, maintaining that there is nothing wrong and unconstitutional with the inquiry.

Madaming gustong pumigil sa pagdinig na ito o kinukuwestiyon ang pagdinig na ito. Naninidigan ang Senado sa kapangyarihan nito bilang kapantay na sangay ng gobyerno,” Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the committee on public services, said as she opened the inquiry.

(Many want to stop the conduct of this hearing or are questioning this hearing. The Senate stands by its authority as a co-equal branch of the government.)

She added: “We need to know the truth and we need the public to hear it.”

Senators took turns explaining why the hearing is in order while the matter is still pending in the House of Representatives.

Earlier, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the Senate would violate the Constitution should it hold a hearing on ABS-CBN franchise without waiting for the House of Representatives.

It was not until Monday morning that the House started its proceedings on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. The House committee on legislative franchises will start gathering position papers on the media company's franchise renewal. 

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate panel, under its oversight function, may listen to the complaints or possible violations of franchise. 

“By practice, by tradition and by precedence we have discussed and debated on committee level issues on the budget which should emanate from the House as well as tax measures that can be discussed on committee level simultaneously with the House provided that we do not approve committee report ahead of the House,” Zubiri said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon cited the case of Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, which said that Constitution does not prohibit the Senate from hearing a proposed legislation in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the lower house.

He also noted lawmakers have few session days to deliberate the matter before the franchise of ABS-CBN expires on March 30.

“It is for that reason both from the legal and practical standpoint that we’re holding his hearing,” Drilon said.

Jurisdiction issues

Sen. Francis Tolentino, a member of the administration PDP-Laban party, cautioned the hearing may violate the separation of powers.

“The Supreme Court has already assumed jurisdiction of the petition filed by the solicitor general. Dahil meron na isang kasong dinidinig at sumagot na ang ABS-CBN. Hindi ba po kaya tayo ay sasalungat doon sa prinsipyo ng sub judice, separation of powers?” Tolentino said.

(Because there is already a case being heard, wouldn’t we going against the principles of sub judice and separation of powers?)

“Out of respect to a co-equal branch of government, the Supreme Court for that matter. Isn’t it correct and judicious to defer to the highest tribunal in so far as the ABS-CBN issue is concerned?” he asked.

Solicitor General Jose Calida accused the network of violating its franchise law and had asked the Supreme Court to revoke its franchise in a quo warranto petition.

Citing various decisions, Poe stressed that judicial proceedings do not preclude Senate hearings in aid of legislation.

“We should have more confidence on our justices. The reason why there is probably an issuance of gag order is supposedly they would not be unduly influenced,” Poe said.

She added: “But let us also trust they have good judgment. That it doesn’t mean that discussions are going on and they hear it, they will immediately forego what’s actually written in law or replace it with popular opinion.”

The committee chair also said SC justices were resource persons in the House hearings to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The high court later voted to void her appointment.

vuukle comment



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN announces that it will cease operations of TeleRadyo, which has been in the red since 2020, by June 30.

August 11, 2022 - 9:37am

In a disclosure, ABS confirms signing of deal that sees the broadcast giant enter into a joint venture with MVP's TV5. — Ramon Royandoyan


January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with