MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer): President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (Feb 26) said he was accepting the apology of ABS-CBN for his personal grievances against the media network, vowing not to interfere with its pending franchise renewal in Congress.
“Yes, I accept the apology, ” he told reporters in a chance interview at Malacañang.
At a Senate hearing on Monday, ABS-CBN Corp president and CEO Carlo Katigbak said sorry to the President for airing an advertisement critical of him and for failing to air his provincial and regional political commercials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“We felt we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads, ” Katigbak said.
Asked about ABS-CBN’s offer to return his campaign’s 2.6-mil pesos payment for unaired ad placements, Duterte said he’d “rather not” take it back.
“They could just give it to any charitable institution of their choice, ” he said.
Duterte had castigated the network repeatedly for not airing some of his political advertisements when he was still running for President, while airing an ad placed by then Sen Antonio Trillanes IV attacking him.
At the Senate hearing, Katigbak explained that Duterte’s ads had been placed too late.
He said ABS-CBN returned some 4mil pesos to Duterte for the unaired ads but was delayed in refunding the remaining 2.6mil pesos.
The President assured the broadcast giant that he had not spoken to any lawmaker from the House of Representatives to block its application to extend the 25-year licence.
“There are about  of them — you can ask anybody, and if there’s a congressman who says [I spoke to them], I will resign. I never told anybody, I never spoke to anybody, ” the President said.
He insisted that only Congress had the power to grant or deny ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“All of these things must originate from the House. Forget all this hullabaloo. The critical move is on the House. And I tell you I’m not going to interfere, ” the President said.
But Duterte did not make any promises on signing the franchise into law, should it finally reach his office.
He had previously threatened to veto any measure extending ABS-CBN’s licence.
“I will cross the bridge when I get there. Maybe I will call the media when that happens. It will be a difficult decision, ” Duterte said.
ABS-CBN’s licence will lapse on May 4, but the House has yet to conduct a hearing on 11 bills that would renew the TV network’s franchise.
Congress will go on recess on March 11.
Besides the apparent footdragging by the House, ABS-CBN is facing a petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida asking the Supreme Court to nullify the network’s soon-to-lapse franchise.
Calida claims that ABS-CBN has violated the terms of the franchise and the Constitution, charges that the media conglomerate denies.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra insists that Congress can order the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue ABS-CBN a provisional permit to operate after its franchise expires, notwithstanding a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.
“If it’s Congress itself, the sovereign power in the matter of franchise grants, which authorises the NTC to issue a provisional permit in the interim between the expiration of the original franchise and congressional action on its renewal, who is there to question that authorisation?” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“As long as both houses come out with the proper resolution, whether jointly or separately, that’s sufficient affirmation for the NTC to issue a provisional authority, ” the justice secretary continued. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
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