Senate to look into claims vs ABS-CBN as franchise renewal hangs

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THE Senate Public Services Committee will look into the allegations against the ABS-CBN Corp. that were cited as the roadblock in granting the 25-year extension of its franchise.

Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the committee, filed Senate Resolution No. 322 to give a venue to all parties while waiting for the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to begin tackling the franchise.

“Due to the gravity of the allegations and its possible effects, the Committee has deemed it appropriate to lay the groundwork for a possible inquiry in the spirit of public interest,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

She said the inquiry is well within the Senate’s oversight function on franchises, but noted it does not preclude any action in the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court.

“The issue on sub judice regarding legislative inquiries has long been resolved by the Supreme Court,” she said, citing the Sabio versus Gordon case, which said “On-going judicial proceedings do not preclude congressional hearings in aid of legislation.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon supported the resolution, which he said would allow the Senate to make a judgment on the renewal of the franchise.

The Office of the Solicitor General earlier filed a quo warranto petition to forfeit the existing franchise of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. even as the franchise is set to expire on March 2020.

Some lawmakers asserted that the media giant may still continue its operation until 2022 as long as its franchise renewal is pending in Congress. The franchise was first granted in 1995, under Republic Act No. 7966.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III supported the resolution so as to be clarified on ABS-CBN’s alleged violations. — Charmaine A. Tadalan