THE Senate Committee on Public Services will no longer wait for the transmittal of the bill on the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. from the House of Representatives as it plans to begin deliberation of the application for renewal.
Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the committee, initially sought an inquiry on the allegations Solicitor General Jose C. Calida cited in his quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN and its unit ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
“Nagpalit na ‘yung isip ko. Sa tingin ko, didinigin na natin mismo ang prangkisa (I’ve changed my mind. I think we will hear the franchise renewal itself),” she said in a briefing on Monday.
The committee will hear the ABS-CBN franchise on Feb. 27.
Her decision comes even as legislative rules provide that franchise bills should emanate from the House of Representatives.
She said in practice, the Senate may begin tackling a bill simultaneously with the House, citing as examples the annual general appropriation bill and tax measures.
Last week, House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the chamber would not tackle the measure just yet as it focuses on more important matters, but he committed to hold hearings before March 2022.
Separately, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 11 in which he sought to formally extend the validity of the ABS-CBN franchise until Dec. 31, 2022, ahead of the bill’s approval.
His filed the resolution in anticipation of Mr. Calida’s next move, which is to question the continued operation of ABS-CBN despite the March 2020 expiration.
“With that eventuality then it is a legal debate,” Mr. Drilon said in a separate briefing. “If you do not do this, in six weeks time the continued existence of the ABS-CBN is open to question.”
Senate and House leaders have both agreed that the network may continue operations until 2022 as long as the deliberations on its franchise renewal are pending. — Charmaine A. Tadalan