By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate has decided to hold off its afternoon session on Monday, February 24, to give way to the Public Services Committee’s hearing on the renewal of the ABS-CBN’s franchise.
This was announced by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who said before the end of their Wednesday session that majority of the all the chamber’s members agreed to allow “very important hearings” to be held in the session hall.
Before this, Senator Grace Poe disclosed that the public services panel’s discussion of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal was rescheduled to Monday.
“To allow our colleagues to utilize all our rooms on Monday for very important hearings, particularly the Session hall, we move to adjourn session…three o’clock in the afternoon, of Wednesday, February 26, 2020,” Zubiri said in his motion which was then approved by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
He said the suspension of Monday’s session was decided upon by the Senate after senators expressed their plan to attend the ABS-CBN franchise renewal hearing.
“About 80 percent of senators have signified that they will be attending so we are expecting a full house in terms of the membership of the Senate to attend and question resource persons,” Zubiri said in an interview.
“The Senate is a collegial body. We make a collective decision and that was the decision we arrived at in the mini caucus,” he added.
“The committee of Sen. Grace Poe will have enough time – even if she wants all the way up to the evening – to be able to propound questions on the resource persons on this franchise application,” he further said.
Aside from the afternoon session, the Committee on Finance’s inquiry on the government’s industrialization and employment generation initiatives under the 2020 national budget set for Monday morning has also been postponed.
Sen. Sonny Angara, finance committee chair, said he would be participating in the Poe-led hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Poe moved the franchise renewal hearing to an earlier date ahead of the possible gag order that could be issued against ABS-CBN officials and personalities amid the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Several senators have earlier expressed support for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s congressional permit, which is set to expire on March 30.