Full-house Senate attendance expected in ABS-CBN franchise hearing
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate deferred its afternoon plenary session for Monday, Feb. 24, to give way to the ABS-CBN franchise renewal hearing where majority of senators are expected to attend, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
Before adjourning Wednesday’s Senate session, Zubiri said “very important” hearings would be conducted on Monday next week, one of which would make use of the session hall as its venue.
“So to allow our colleagues to utilize all our rooms on Monday for very important hearings, particularly the Session hall, we move to adjourn session until the 26th February, Wednesday three o’clock in the afternoon,” Zubiri said.
He noted that approval of all the senators had been sought about the matter.
“The Senate is a collegial body. We make a collective decision and that was the decision we arrived at in the mini caucus,” he said in an interview.
The session will resume on Wednesday next week, Feb. 26, since Feb. 25, the EDSA People Power anniversary, is a declared national holiday, Zubiri said.
According to Zubiri, the majority of the senators expressed intent to join the hearing, which will be led by Sen. Grace Poe, public services committee chair.
“About 80 percent of senators have signified that they will be attending so we are expecting a full house in terms of the membership of the Senate to attend and question resource persons,” Zubiri said in an interview.
“The committee of Sen. Grace Poe will have enough time — even if she wants all the way up to the evening — to be able to profound questions on the resource persons on this franchise application,” he added.
Other franchises, too
In a media advisory sent to reporters by Poe’s office, the franchise hearing is scheduled on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m., over a month before the ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise lapses on March 30, 2020.
Poe’s committee will also discuss the broadcast franchises of the following companies:
- Golden Broadcast Professional Inc.
- Gold Label Broadcasting System Inc.
- Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media Inc.
- First United Broadcasting Corp.
- Crusaders Broadcasting System Inc.
- Bicol Broadcasting System Inc.
Local bills, like those seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, should first emanate from the House of Representatives before it can be tackled in the Senate.
But Poe announced early this week that her panel would start deliberating on the network’s franchise even without prior action from the lower chamber provided that she would not yet release a committee report on the matter.
This developed after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a quo warranto before the Supreme Court seeking to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise.
The OSG then later filed a motion asking the high court to stop ABS-CBN and concerned parties from discussing the said petition.