Tell the truth, Duterte exhorts media members

February 13, 2020

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte made several appeals to broadcast media practitioners during Wednesday’s induction of officers of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

The chief executive told media entities to “report the truth even if it destroys him.”

“Ako ang aking hinihingi is simply the truth [I am simply asking for the truth]. If the truth will destroy me, so be it... If the truth will — masisira ako [ruin me], that’s the price of being in public service.”

The President also asked media people to continue reporting on the various issues such as water deals with Maynilad and Manila Water, while lauding the role of the country’s mass media in promoting awareness and spreading vital information.

This comes on the heels of a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against TV network ABS-CBN, which is a member of the KBP.

While the President was silent on the franchise issue during the event, he did warn media from abusing broadcast privileges.

“While our Constitution upholds the freedom of the press, the function to broadcast is a privilege granted by the government. It is imbued with the best interest of the nation and our people. We will not tolerate any abuse of (this) privilege,” Duterte said.

The renewal of television network ABS-CBN’s congressional franchise is entirely up to Congress, which could even overturn a presidential veto, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday.

“(W)hen it comes to the franchise, it is only Congress that could grant it. Even if Mr. Duterte vetoes the grant, Congress could overrule the veto,” Panelo said amid outrage over Solicitor General Jose Calida’s filing of a quo warranto petition for the revocation of the network’s franchise before the Supreme Court on Monday.

Panelo maintained that President Duterte believes in “let(ting) the law take its course.”

Should the Supreme Court grant Calida’s quo warranto petition, the network could always apply for a new franchise, he added.

ABS-CBN’s existing franchise lapses on March 30.

Panelo said Duterte’s earlier threat of “see(ing) to it that you’re out” addressed to network executives was “just a statement of displeasure because of what ABS-CBN did to him. (I)t has nothing to do with (Calida’s) petition for quo warranto,” Panelo said, referring to Duterte’s complaint that the network did not air his political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Panelo also advised members of the House of Representatives tasked by law to grant or deny the franchise to “ignore” the President’s “statement of displeasure” against ABS-CBN.

The Malacañang Press Corps issued a statement on Wednesday saying it “firmly advocates respect for press freedom as an act of solidarity with ABS-CBN.”

Other organizations trained their guns on Calida, with the Justice and Court Reporters Association (Jucra) calling out his on-camera censure of ABS-CBN court reporter Mike Navallo for his allegedly biased stories.

“We believe such veiled threats to reporters, especially when coming from a government official, have no space in a democracy,” the Jucra statement read.