Duterte still ‘neutral’ on ABS-CBN issue

July 29, 2020
Rodrigo Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte remains “neutral” on the issue hounding the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp. despite his latest tirades against the Lopezes, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the House of Representatives’ recent move to reject the bid of the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN for a new franchise was not influenced by Duterte.

“Hindi po siya nanghimasok sa botohan sa Kongreso. At habang dinidinig po ng Kongreso ang prangkisa ng ABS-CBN, hindi naman po siya umatake sa ABS-CBN. Nanahimik po siya at hinayaan niyang bumoto sang-ayon sa konsensiya ang mga kongresista,” Roque said a day after Duterte took a swipe at the Lopez family during his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Duterte, in his penultimate SONA, said he was a “casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election.”

The President made the remarks as he recalled ABS-CBN’s failure to air his campaign advertisements for the 2016 presidential race.

Roque reiterated that Duterte has already forgiven ABS-CBN.

The network apologized last February for failing to air the political advertisements.

He also noted that the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise does not rest on Duterte.

“Ang (The granting of) franchise is a decision to be made by Congress. Wala po talaga sa jurisdiction, wala sa puder ng Presidente ‘yung mag-desisyon kung bibigyan o hindi ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN,” Roque said.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises on July 10 denied the application of ABS-CBN for a new 25-year congressional franchise to resume the network’s broadcast operations.

ABS-CBN stopped its broadcast operations on May 5, a day after the expiration of the network’s legislative franchise, following the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order.

Despite Duterte’s rants against ABS-CBN, the embattled media firm on Monday said it is offering its transmission network to help the government air education programs in the coming school year.

Sought for a reaction, Roque said the Palace was thankful to ABS-CBN’s plan to help the government in implementing distance learning amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

“Kung gobyerno ang gagamit, salamat po. Baka naman pupwedeng gamitin ang transmission at materyales ng ABS-CBN (If the government could use that, thank you. Perhaps, we can use the transmission network of and materials from ABS-CBN),” Roque said. PNA