PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is willing to call it quits with broadcast giant ABS-CBN, whose television franchise expires in 2020, should it agrees to promote federalism—an idea which he admits ‘doesn’t seem to ring a bell’ among Filipinos.
“If you can help with the federal system campaign and you make a slogan also for unity and to preserve the republic, I’ll make amends with you,” Duterte said in a speech during a benefit Christmas dinner at Pasay City.
“Just dedicate a portion of your time, your expensive and precious time on TV, help us promote federalism. I’m willing to shake hands with you,” he added.
Towards the end of his speech, he likewise made the same proposal to other media entities whom he had a beef in the past.
“If you support this, you networks, I won’t ask for anything else, that’s it,” said Duterte.
The President said that he hasn’t forgotten about the alleged debt owed to him by the Lopez-owned broadcast giant, but insisted that he would be willing to discuss the terms with them.
“But you’ve done a wrong. You still owe the government. Do your part, maybe we can talk about it,” said Duterte, adding that he is not asking those critical of him to stop reporting negative about his administration.
On Tuesday night, Duterte said that Filipinos are not ready for a shift to a federal type of government, despite his continuing efforts to get them to embrace the idea.
“[The] problem is the Filipinos are not ready for a federal type. It doesn’t seem to ring a bell in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Duterte said during a party he hosted for reporters.
ABS-CBN, whose 25-year franchise expires on March 30, 2020 — is facing difficulty in getting a fresh congressional franchise from the 17th Congress in the face of the president’s threat to block any bill renewing its franchise for allegedly swindling him during the campaign.
He also expressed displeasure over a negative TV campaign ad against him, using children reacting negatively to video clips of Duterte cursing at Pope Francis and his joke about the gang rape and murder of an Australian missionary during a prison riot in Davao City in 1989.
Last April, Duterte had signed into law renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN’s closest, rival GMA Network Inc. for another 25 years.
The 72-year-old Duterte is set to finish his six-year term until 2022.