President Rodrigo Duterte’s resolve to block the renewal of the franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN will not affect the decision of lawmakers who tackle legislative franchises, Malacañang said Sunday.
The renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise would still be up to Congress, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“Congress will initially decide on it. We don’t know yet if Congress will approve it,” Panelo told dzIQ in an interview.
Panelo could not tell, however, if the President would approve the congressional franchise that will be forwarded to him by the Congress through a bill.
“Circumstances will prompt him to approve it or not,” Panelo said.
Duterte on Tuesday said the broadcast giant should not expect its franchise to be renewed once it expires on March 30, 2020. He earlier accused ABS-CBN of not airing his paid political advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign.
If its franchise is not renewed, ABS-CBN would be forced to stop its radio and television operations.
“You are expecting that your franchise will be renewed. I am sorry. I will see to it that you are out,” Duterte said.
Panelo also denied that Duterte’s pronouncement against ABS-CBN was part of the President’s “political vendetta” as claimed by detained Senator Leila de Lima.
In a statement released Saturday, De Lima said Duterte’s renewed threat against the media firm merely proved his “regime’s blatant crackdown, broader propaganda, misinformation against media, opposition leaders and organizations who criticize and challenge his crooked and brutal policies.”
Last month, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he has a “personal complaint” against the bill that would renew ABS-CBN‘s franchise, even as he promised the Lower Chamber would be fair in tackling the measure.
Under Republic Act No. 3846, radio and television stations are required to seek franchise from Congress.
Cayetano, the running mate of Duterte in the 2016 polls, claimed that some leaders of the broadcast giant meddled unjustly during the campaign.
Despite this, Cayetano said the House would give “due process” to the network when the committee on legislative franchises tackles the bill before the end of 2019.
ABS-CBN’s current franchise was approved through RANo. 7966 on March 30, 1995.