Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte (Photo courtesy by The Filipino Times)

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said it is unaware of alleged efforts by Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and the religious sect Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to halt the operations of local media giant ABS-CBN Corp. “for good.”

“Wala po kaming nalalaman tungkol diyan (We don’t know anything about that),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4.

Roque issued the statement after online news site Politiko reported that Duterte and INC are allegedly “stepping up pressure on lawmakers to shut the media giant down for good.”

ABS-CBN stopped the operations of its television and radio broadcasts a day after its franchise expired on May 4.

Politiko, in its report published on Tuesday, claimed that Duterte and INC are supposedly “lobbying separately with members of the House legislative franchises committee to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application.”

It also alleged that the presidential son and the religious group are “pressuring House leaders” to vote against the granting of a new franchise to ABS-CBN.

While he was not privy to the veracity of the report, Roque said Duterte, as a lawmaker, will also decide on ABS-CBN’s fate.

“Sang-ayon po sa Saligang Batas, talagang dapat magmula sa mababang kapulungan ang lahat ng prangkisa pagdating po sa negosyong broadcast. At kabahagi naman po si Congressman Pulong Duterte ng mababang kapulungan (The Constitution states that the franchise should come from Congress. Congressman Pulong Duterte is part of Congress),” he said.

Politiko’s report came as the 46-member of the House legislative franchises committee and the 45 House leaders or ex-officio members are set to vote on ABS-CBN’s franchise for the first reading at the committee level.

The franchise bill, if approved, will be presented to the plenary for further deliberations and voting for the second and third readings.

However, the franchise bill, if rejected, will no longer reach the plenary level.

On Tuesday, Malacañang urged lawmakers to vote on ABS-CBN’s new legislative franchise based on their “conscience.” (PNA)