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Grace Poe says Senate hearing on ABS-CBN franchise to proceed despite SolGen’s gag order petition

“Our hearing will push through according to our Constitutional mandate.”

Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday said the Senate will push through with its hearing on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN despite the gag order filed by the Office of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court (SC).

“Our hearing will push through according to our Constitutional mandate,” Poe said in a statement.

The Senator noted that it is up to the high court to act on the motion “under existing laws and jurisprudence where it recognized the jurisdiction of its co-equal branch.”

Last week, Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, filed a resolution to hold hearings on alleged franchise violations by ABS-CBN Corp. and by its subsidiary ABS-CBN Converge.

The Senator said the move does not intend to disrespect the House of Representatives.

“We respect Congress… That’s why I respectfully delayed hearings here in the Senate, hoping they would calendar it. My intention is not to pressure them (Congress) to do anything that is against their will because that is their right,” she said.

“But on the other hand, we expect our representatives to act in a timely manner,” she added.

Poe said her team is already working on scheduling the committee hearing.

She added that the panel is also mandated to take up Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s resolution seeking to extend ABS-CBN’s franchise until 2022.

Poe’s resolution was filed following Solicitor General Jose Calida’s lodging of a quo warranto petition before the SC to forfeit the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN.

Calida has been accusing the network of violating the terms of its franchises, including supposed violations of restrictions on foreign ownership.

On Tuesday (February 18), Calida has asked the high court to issue a gag order against ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence in relation to the quo warranto petition he filed against the network.

In his motion, Calida asked the SC to stop “parties and persons acting on their (network’s) behalf” from releasing statements surrounding the quo warranto petition.

In reply, the high court ordered the ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiary to answer Calida’s very urgent motion to stop the network from issuing statements on the merits of the case 5 days within notice.

“After ma-file ng ABS-CBN ‘yan, the court will decide on the matter,” the SC’s spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said.

The ABS-CBN has maintained that it did not violate any law.

The Lopez-led firm stressed it “complies with all pertinent laws governing its franchise and has secured all necessary government and regulatory approvals for its business operations.”

ABS-CBN further noted that it was looking forward to answering allegations before franchise renewal hearings in Congress.

“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the network said.

The 25-year franchise of ABS-CBN will expire on March 30.

To date, there are at least 11 pending bills seeking franchise renewal for ABS-CBN.

However, the House committee on legislative franchises has yet to tackle any of the measures.

Written by Angelle De Leon

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