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Grace seeks probe on ABS-CBN compliance

POE (center). (FB photo)

POE (center). (FB photo)

Sen. Grace Poe has sought an inquiry on the compliance of ABS-CBN with the terms and conditions of its legislative franchise.

Poe filed Senate Resolution No. 332 directing the Senate Committee on Public Services which she chairs to investigate the matter.

This comes amid the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against the broadcast company for allegedly violating its 25-year franchise, which is set to expire next month, and the constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership.

The resolution might allow the Senate to discuss ABS-CBN’s existing franchise even as the House of Representatives has yet to act on pending bills seeking the renewal of the media giant’s congressional permit to operate.

Sen. Ping Lacson, however, said Poe’s appeal for a Senate inquiry may violate the Supreme Court’s sub judice rule, since it would directly discuss the supposed violations of ABS-CBN.

“We may have to discuss it in caucus first as it may be violative of the sub judice rule, now that the SC has already asked ABS-CBN to file their comment within 10 days,” Lacson said.

“My understanding is, the alleged violations of the legislative franchise by ABS-CBN are the meat and substance of the quo warranto petition filed by the SolGen,” he pointed out.

Senate President Tito Sotto, heeding Lacson’s concern, said he will call for a caucus on Monday to discuss Poe’s resolution.

“It was initially fine with me but Sen. Ping says there might be repercussions on the ongoing case in the SC. It’s better to discuss it with the others first. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong in filing the resolution,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang will not interfere with the planned Senate inquiry, an official said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo recognized that the Senate has the prerogative to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation and that they would not meddle in the work of an independent branch of government.

“That is part of the Senate function, investigation in aid of legislation. We do not interfere with the work of an equal branch of government,” Panelo said.

Panelo also said ABS-CBN can apply for another franchise to operate even if the SC favors the quo warranto petition.

He said the filing of the petition is “much ado about nothing” since the television station could reapply for a franchise.

“If the franchise is revoked by reason of the petition of quo warranto, then ABS-CBN can again apply for a new franchise. Congress will have to resolve it,” he said.

He maintained that the petition was an “independent move” by Calida. “The President does not interfere with any department unless there is a complaint of corruption,” he said. (Vanne Terrazola and Genalyn Kabiling)