Despite his repeated threats against ABS-CBN, President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in watching the Senate hearing on the renewal of the network’s legislative franchise that is scheduled today, Monday, the Palace said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte would be working instead.
READ: Nothing special about ABS-CBN pact renewal, says Cayetano
Meanwhile, the Senate committee on public services, led by Senator Grace Poe, will hold its first hearing three days before the initial schedule of Feb. 27.
“The President is not interested. He has so many work, Panelo said in a radio interview.
And contrary to the assertion of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday defended the decision of the Senate to hear the application of ABS-CBN for its franchise renewal that is still pending in the House of Representatives.
Drilon, a four-time Senate President, rejected that today’s hearing on the franchise of ABS-CBN was ''unconstitutional.
“We are saddened by the accusation. That is not true. There is nothing wrong and unconstitutional if we hear the franchise of ABS-CBN, Drilon said.
READ: ’Press freedom non-issue in ABS’
Senator Sonny Angara echoed Drilon.
Rep. Joselito Atienza on Sunday slammed Congress’ inaction on several pending measures to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.
He told dzMM, Atienza such failure was “bordering on illegality.”
To take up the issue of the network’s franchise issue was a “responsibility” of the House of Representatives, and not a matter of discretion, he said.
“The papers [of ABS-CBN] are just stuck inside the drawer of the committee on franchises. That, to me, is bordering on illegality,” he said.
Poe, the adopted daughter of ABS-CBN actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, earlier said that the issues raised by Solicitor General Jose Calida in his quo warranto plea could be discussed in the Senate hearing on the network’s franchise renewal.
The Palace has repeatedly distanced itself from Calida's petition, saying it was his job to file cases against transgressors and Duterte had not ordered him to do so.
Calida's petition accuses ABS-CBN of unlawfully exercising its franchise by allegedly offering paid broadcast without government approval and by allegedly allowing foreign ownership.
The broadcast giant has denied it violated any laws and received support from several media groups.
Duterte has repeatedly threatened that ABS-CBN will lose its franchise. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Rio N. Araja
READ: House defers action on ABS-CBN