The next House hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise issue, originally scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday, was moved to Monday next week, House Committee on Legislative Franchises chair Franz Alvarez announced.
According to Alvarez, his committee as well as the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability needed more time for the submission of documents, as well as time to study them.
In a separate radio interview, House Good Government panel chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado confirmed the postponement of the hearings.
"Binibigyan po natin ng oras na makapag-sumite ng dokumento ang iba’t ibang panig kasi napakarami pa pong kulang sa dokumento na hinihiling ng komite natin," he said.
"At kung wala ang mga dokumentong yan, baka magkapahiyaan lang po o mag-away-away sa komite. Iniiwasan natin yun," he added.
The joint panels were supposed to begin the interpellations on whether or not ABS-CBN violated the terms of its previous franchise in their hearings this week.
In particular, the hearings would have focused on:
Whether or not ABS-CBN violated the terms of its franchise by offering its TV plus boxes for a one-time fee but using the free-to-air signal granted through its franchise and at no cost to it;
Whether or not ABS-CBN violated the terms of its franchise by offering pay-per-view in its TV plus boxes channels using the free-to-air signal granted through its franchise and at no cost to it;
Whether or not the bills filed for the ABS-CBN franchise application containing “multiple channels” is an implicit admission of the violation of its previous franchise’s “one franchise, one channel” provision
Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza, however, wanted the joint panels to conclude their hearings and vote on the matter.
He described the hearings as a "fishing expedition," as accusations against the network were not being backed by evidence.
But Sy-Alvarado said that whether or not the hearings were a "fishing expedition" depended on how the inquiries were viewed.
"Pwede mong gawing both ways naman yung fishing expedition. Kasi yung hearing naman po kung pabor ka sa ABS-CBN, pwede mong makitaan na okay, dapat bigyan na yung ABS-CBN. Makikita mo naman yung mga tanong, pabor na pabor sa ABS-CBN," he said.
"Yung mga anti naman sa ABS-CBN, syempre hindi naman magtatanong ng pabor sa ABS-CBN ang mga yan. Kaya it goes both ways," he added.
Sy-Alvarado said they were close to reaching the "halftime" of their hearings, with only seven issues left to discuss.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said that he believes that hearings would not go beyond July, and they could already make their decision by August. — DVM, GMA News