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No basis for senators to inhibit from ABS-CBN deliberations –Drilon


Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday said lawyer Larry Gadon's call for several senators to recuse themselves from deliberation on ABS-CBN's franchise had no merit.

"Absolutely no basis. We are a political body. Inhibition is a personal decision of each senator. No one can impose it, not even the Supreme Court," Drilon said in a message.

"We can only be disciplined, if there are ethical issues involved in our participation in the ABS-CBN franchise, by the Senate, and no one else," he added.

Drilon was among the 12 senators who signed Senate Resolution No. 395 which urged the National Telecommunications Commission to reconsider reversing the cease and desist order it issued against ABS-CBN.

Over the weekend, Gadon said he sent an electronic letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III in which he asked that nine senators be inhibited from both the deliberation and voting on ABS-CBN's franchise because of a supposed conflict of interest.

Gadon claimed that Sotto and Senators Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, and Bong Revilla should recuse themselves from participation on the matter due to their alleged connections to the media network.

Gadon added that those who signed the resolution urging the NTC to rethink the closure order it issued should also inhibit themselves.

On Monday morning, the lawyer said he had gone to the Senate to submit a hard copy of his letter, but the administration office was still closed.

Sotto, meanwhile, rejected Gadon's allegations.

"I am not financially interested in the business of ABS-CBN. I am not a stockholder. I am part of the Congress that is mandated by the Constitution to grant franchises. I cannot shirk from my sworn duty," the Senate President said in a message to reporters.

"Besides, I suggest you listen to my interpellations before judging me... Baka manghinayang siya pag nag-inhibit ako dahil ang ganda ng mga tanong ko sa ABS-CBN," he added.

Angara, whose wife worked at the media network, also said there were no grounds for him to inhibit.

"Looking at our laws on the matter there is no need for me to inhibit because I do not have a substantial interest in the company which the law and rules define as shares sufficient to elect a director," he said.

"Neither I nor my wife is an officer of the company, she is a regular employee, thus there is no conflict of interest as set forth in our laws," he added.

Pangilinan, for his part, saw “no need to comment" on Gadon's call.

Poe had earlier said that she would inhibit from leading the Senate hearings on ABS-CBN's franchise, as well as from voting, because her mother, actress Susan Roces, worked at the media company.

The Senate Committee on Public Services, to be led by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, would start hearings on ABS-CBN's franchise on Tuesday morning. — DVM, GMA News

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