By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has scored Sen. Grace Poe over her decision to conduct hearings on the controversial franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
Cayetano on Thursday said he is wondering why is Poe so anxious to tackle the franchise renewal of the Kapamilya network considering the clear provision in the 1987 Constitution that any legislation on appropriation or franchise should originate in the Lower House.
“Ano ba sabi sa Constitution? Saan ba mag-uumpisa ang prangkisa? Sa House o sa Senate?” said Cayetano during an ambush interview in Iba, Zambales.
Section 24 of the 1987 charter states that: “All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.”
A legislative franchise lands on the category of a private bill.
Cayetano stressed that Poe and other Senators “feel free to violate the Constitution” with the upcoming hearing on the legislative franchise renewal of the Lopez-owned media conglomerate but cold over the idea of a charter change (Cha-cha) through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) even though the said provision is clearly stated in the 1987 charter.
“Kapag cha-cha pinag-usapan, ayaw nila. ‘Wag daw muna pag-usapan, pero they feel free to violate the Constitution,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano agreed with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto’s pronouncement that the upcoming Senate hearing will be useless if the House committee on legislative franchise or the Lower House plenary as whole decide to junk the pending bills that seek to grants the embattled broadcast network a fresh 25-year franchise.
“Sangayon ako dun kay Senate President Sotto nung sinabi niyang, ‘Anong ihi-hear mo?’ Kasi ‘pag dineny namin, wala siyang ihi-hear. Kapag in-approve namin, e ‘di may records na siya ng lahat ng nagsabing gusto at hindi, at 300 mahigit ang kongresista,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano assured ABS-CBN management that they have already coordinated with the National Telecommunications Commission to allow their continuous operations while their franchise renewal application remains pending before the legislative franchise panel.
“Meron po tayong ugnayan sa NTC na gagawin na habang naghi-hearing kami o habang pending sa amin, hindi magsasara,” he said.