The Senate is holding hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise, despite them having no jurisdiction over the matter. It is, for all practical purposes, just a photo opportunity for Grace Poe and her fellow pro-ABS-CBN buddies.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who advised his former colleagues in the Senate to allow the House to give the issue its due and timely consideration, summarized the gist of Poe’s hearing quite well, saying:
“Bakit nag-hearing ang Senate? Anong purpose? Parang naga-attendance e, ‘Hello, I’m here, I’m for you’, ‘di ba? Kasi sabi nila, it’s not for the franchise kasi hindi pa sila pwede mag-hearing sa franchise, nandito pa, so what is it for?”
According to Article VI, Section 24 of the 1987 Constitution, “all appropriation, revenue or tariff, bills authorizing increase of public debt, bills of local application and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives”. The legislative franchise of ABS-CBN is a private bill.
So for the Senate to pull a trigger happy hearing before the House has even begun their discussions of the complex issue is not only an attention grab versus their sister chamber, but it’s downright unconstitutional. Not only that, but they don’t even have a franchise bill to discuss – without the House transmitting their proposed version of the bill (if they would pass it at all), Grace Poe has absolutely nothing to hold a hearing over.
Speaker Cayetano also offered the good senators some alternative material to discuss. For example, instead of wasting all their time on the ultimately pointless hearing, the senators could work to pass their versions of the landmark PIFITA and CITIRA bills, which seek to reform passive income and corporate taxation laws, respectively. These landmark measures are part of President Duterte’s priority legislative agenda and were passed by the House last year, near the start of the 18th Congress.