MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday said critics are “barking up the wrong tree” because they continue to blame President Rodrigo Duterte over the issues hounding the franchise of embattled broadcast firm ABS-CBN.
“They’re barking up the wrong tree kung si Presidente ang binabanatan nila (if they are criticizing the President),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview with Radyo Singko, when sought to react to the problems confronting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Duterte has slammed ABS-CBN for supposedly not airing his paid campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential race.
Last week, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking the invalidation of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise.
Calida claimed ABS-CBN allegedly violated the 1987 Constitution when it allowed foreign investors to take part in its ownership by issuing Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corp.
Section 11(1), Article 16 of the 1987 Constitution emphasizes that ownership and management of Philippine mass media is limited to Filipino citizens or Philippine corporations, cooperatives, and associations.
The filing of the quo warranto suit came as ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire on March 30.
On Tuesday, Calida also filed a gag order before SC to prevent parties from issuing statements on pending quo warranto petition against the congressional franchise of ABS-CBN.
Critics are claiming that Duterte is trying to stop the operations of ABS-CBN.
Panelo maintained that Duterte had no hand in Calida’s move to file a quo warranto plea and gag order.
“Hindi siya nakikialam, ni wala kayong narinig, eh ito pa. Ilang beses na niyang sinabi ‘yun na wala siyang kinalaman sa quo warranto (He never interferes. You never heard him interfere. How many times does he say that he does not have a hand in the quo warranto case),” he said.
Panelo added that Duterte cannot be stripped of his right to air grievances against ABS-CBN.
“Hindi porket Presidente na siya, hindi na siya puwedeng mag-bigay ng kanyang sariling hinaing at sama ng loob (Not because he’s the President, he can no longer complain or share his sentiments),” he said.
Panelo likewise reiterated that ABS-CBN’s fate is now up to Congress.
“’Yung kapangyarihan ay nasa Kongreso (The power is vested on Congress),” he said. “Ang Kongreso ang kulitin nila, hindi si Presidente (They should ask Congress, not the President).
ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire on March 30 this year but several lawmakers claimed the network can still operate while measures for the renewal of its legislative franchise are still pending before Congress.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a resolution, extending ABS-CBN’s franchise until December 31, 2022 to give lawmakers enough time to review the broadcast network’s application for a new license to operate. (iam/sovereignph.com/PNA)