MANILA, Philippines — According to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated threats to close media network ABS-CBN for good should not be taken seriously or literally.
“You know, the president made utterances against ABS-CBN. He made certain statements like ‘I’ll shut (it) down.’ But hindi naman literal ‘yun eh (that’s not even literal). He wants to shut down the fraudulent practices of your network,” Panelo said in an interview ABS-CBN sister company ANC.
During the interview, Panelo also cited Duterte’s repeated complaints over ABS-CBN’s failure to air of his paid political ads back in 2016.
“You cannot deprive this man (President Duterte) from expressing his displeasure, or disgust, or anger when he is a victim of fraud… Pero walang kinalaman ‘yun sa pag-grant or pag-renew (but that has nothing to do with the granting or renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise) because that is the job of Congress,” Panelo said.
Whether the media network’s operations will continue after the franchise expires after March 30 is still in question, with just a little over a month left for Congress to pass the required legislation.
There are now conflicting views over ABS-CBN franchise renewal efforts.
At least 11 congressional resolutions seeking to obtain a fresh new franchise for ABS-CBN of at least 25 years, remain pending in the House of Representatives.
A day before, Senator Bong Go and even President Duterte separately issued press releases urging congress to immediately act on the pending bills ahead of the March 30 expiration of ABS-CBN’s existing legislative franchise.
At the same time, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano countered and hinted that at present the House has more priority bills to contend than tackle ABS-CBN’s pending bills.
The Speaker said discussions on its renewal bills may be tackled by Congress after the Holy Week in the month of May.
As it is, Senator Grace Poe also suggested for Congress or the Supreme Court to at least issue a written, formal statement authorizing the media giant continued operation while its franchise renewal bills remain pending in the House.
Some lawmakers, especially Senate President Tito Sotto, hinted that ABS-CBN can freely operate while its renewal bills are pending or until after the term of the 18th Congress expires in 2022.
Poe also suggested for the Senate to hold discussions on ABS-CBN’s pending bills of which the Speaker immediately countered the Upper House would be making a grave mistake saying any legislative franchise should first and foremost emanate from the Lower House and not vice versa.
The Speaker said that a congressional franchise bill needs to be approved by the House of Representatives before it is transmitted to the Senate.
When the version of the bill gets approved by both chambers it will then be transmitted anew to Malacanang for the President’s approval, which to many, will be vetoed as Duterte has repeatedly criticized ABS-CBN and stated that he is determined to block the renewal of its franchise.
“Ang inyong franchise mag-end (your franchise will end) next year. If you are expecting na ma-renew ‘yan (its renewal), I’m sorry. You’re out. I will see to it that you’re out,” the president said in December 2019. (iam/sovereignph.com)