Hijacking Congress: Duterte 'overreached' in ABS-CBN franchise challenge - lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2020 09:29 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2020 09:45 AM

Solicitor General Jose Calida files a quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence at the Supreme Court on Monday, February 10, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte "overreached" when his top lawyer questioned the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp and one of its subsidiaries before the Supreme Court, an opposition senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she would be "very glad" if Solicitor General Jose Calida would be invited to the Senate's deliberations on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

"Kaming 3 branches of government, we're supposed to check and balance each other. Nag-overreach ata si SolGen. Nag-overreach na naman si Presidente, nakikialam sa trabaho namin sa Kongreso. Baka may konting tapik sa kamay na kailangan kaming gawin," she told ANC's Early Edition.

(It seems the SolGen overreached. The President again overreached, meddling in our work at Congress. Maybe we need to do a little disciplining.)

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The Senate will proceed with its own hearing on ABS-CBN Corp's franchise without waiting for a franchise bill from the House of Representative, said Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services.

Hontiveros welcomed Poe's announcement and said Congress was the "proper venue to hear bills on renewals of franchise."

"Hindi ito pwedeng i-hijack ng Office of the President through the Office of the Solicitor General. Hindi rin pwede or dapat nilang agawan ang Kongreso ng trabahong ito by trying to overtake us with a quo warranto case in the Supreme Court, citing pa the inapplicable rules of court," she said.

(The Office of the President cannot hijack this through the Office of the Solicitor General. They cannot seize this power by overtaking us with a quo warranto case in the Supreme Court, citing inapplicable rules of court.)

"Ang nakataya dito is the freedom of the press, the fourth estate. In spirit para kayong 4th branch of government, of society. Ang nakataya dito demokrasiya natin."

(What's at stake here is the freedom of the press, the fourth estate. In spirit you're like the 4th branch of government, of society. Our democracy is at stake here.)

At least 11 bills seeking to renew the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN have been filed since July 2019, but the House has yet to tackle any of the measures. The company's current franchise expires on March 30, while Congress will adjourn mid-March.