By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe said Tuesday that the Senate public services committee will be giving ABS-CBN officials and other resource persons the protection to be able to shed light on the issues preventing the renewal of its franchise.
Poe gave this assurance in the wake of Solicitor General Jose Calida’s move to prohibit the broadcast company and its representatives from releasing statements regarding the quo warranto petition he earlier filed to cancel the network’s expiring franchise.
“For whatever authority the Senate can extend, we would like to offer that protection,” Poe told reporters in an interview in Senate.
She said the Senate is “committed to protect the resource persons” in the inquiries being conducted in aid of legislation.
The chair of the public services panel said the hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, which was set for Feb. 27, would push through despite Calida’s motion for a gag order before the Supreme Court (SC).
She maintained that their planned discussion of the franchise is within the Senate’s constitutional mandate. Section 21, Article 6 of the Constitution states that “the Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure.”
“Meron na bang nahatulan ang Korte Suprema sa pagsasalita nila dito sa Senado? Wala pa naman (Has anyone been convicted by the Supreme Court for speaking before the Senate? None so far),” Poe said.
“Kung ang mga senador ay exempt sa pagsasalita nila sa isang hearing, parang common sense na kasama ‘yung mga kausap nila, ‘di ba. Alangan naman kausapin ng senador ang sarili nila (If senators are exempt for speaking in a hearing, it should be common sense that the exemption applies to the persons they are talking to, right. Senators can’t talk to themselves),” she added.
“But of course it does not prevent others from filing a case against them before our court system,” she pointed out.
Poe said she is confident that the SC would be fair with its ruling on Calida’s motion and recognize the Senate as its co-equal branch.