Senate to tackle ABS-CBN franchise on February 24

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate public services committee will tackle the franchise renewal of media giant ABS-CBN on Monday, February 24, ahead of hearings at the House of Representatives.

Senator Grace Poe, the chairperson of the Senate public services panel, said on Tuesday, February 19, that she is planning to hold the hearings earlier than the scheduled one on February 27.

Her announcement comes in the wake of the gag motion filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday, which seeks to prevent ABS-CBN from discussing the merits of the quo warranto petition filed before the Supreme Court. (READ: ABS-CBN case: Testing the limits of corporate structuring practices)

ABS-CBN's franchise is set to expire on March 30.

Poe said that the Senate may not be affected by the gag motion, but the resource persons from ABS-CBN could be, should the High Court rule in favor of the Solicitor General. (READ: Senate presses House to act on ABS-CBN franchise renewal)

"Let’s just say that alam mo ginagawan nila ng paraan para huwag magsalita ‘yung ating mga resource persons. Eh papaano naman kami magkakaroon ng maayos na pagdinig?" Poe said.

(Let's just say that we know that they are finding a way to prevent our resource persons from speaking. If that's the case, how can we have a good hearing?)

Apart from ABS-CBN, the Senate hearing on February 24 will also tackle the franchise of regional broadcast firms Golden Broadcast Professional Inc, Gold Label Broadcasting System Inc, First United Broadcasting Corp, and Bicol Broadcasting System Inc; religious radio network Crusaders Broadcasting System Inc, and Globe Telecom-affiliated Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media. 

The House of Representatives, which is supposed to hear the ABS-CBN franchise first, has yet to set a date for a hearing. It has been pending with the House committee on legislative franchises since July 2019.

Congress will be on recess starting March 14. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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