Senators yesterday defended the hearing that will be conducted by the Senate public services committee, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, on the renewal of ABS-CBN Corp franchise on Monday.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Senate does not violate the Constitution with the conduct of the hearing contrary to the claim of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, GMA News Online reported.
“Not at all. Besides, the hearing is focused on the resolutions filed re: ABS not whether we should approve its franchise or not,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
“A committee report becomes Senate business. Committee chairpersons are authorised to hear what their committee thinks should be heard. It remains their committee business,” he said.
Cayetano, in an ambush interview in Iba, Zambales, on Thursday expressed frustration that the Senate has time to deliberate on the ABS-CBN franchise bills when it has been sitting on other issues like Charter change (Cha-cha). Senator Panfilo Lacson said Cayetano may have a point since the Constitution provides that bills of local application like franchise measures must emanate from the House but he is wrong in equating it to the Cha-cha issue.
“Though since as practised, we conduct committee hearings on tax and budget measures even before the House has transmitted their approved version of bill to the Senate,” he said.
“What can be considered as blatantly violative of the Constitution is if the committee chairperson reports out on the Senate floor for plenary debates the committee report which we have not done and will never do,” Lacson added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said as a former Senate majority leader, holding parallel hearings in the Senate on bills that should emanate from the House such as the budget bill, tax bills, or franchise measures is standard parliamentary practice for decades.
“It is certainly consistent with the law and parliamentary practice,” he said.
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