Malacañang on Wednesday denied it edited the speech of President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Jolo, Sulu, on Monday, skipping some lines in criticizing the ABS-CBN franchise.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said they do not engage in any censorship and have not imposed a policy of editing Duterte’s speeches released to the public.
The Malacanang official made the denial after media members complained the part of President’s July 13 speech in Jolo was edited to cut out his comments about the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN network and other business and media entities.
Roque said he was not present during the Duterte’s visit to Jolo and insisted there is no deliberate move to modify Duterte’s speech prior to public release.
However, an audio recording of the President’s speech attacking Lopez was later leaked online, and later broadcast by GMA News and by Rappler and other news websites.
The Chief Executive slammed the giant television network over alleged discrepancies in their Quezon City property declaration as well as acquiring “tax-free” equipment.
Another line removed from the President’s speech was his criticism about the Lopez family supposedly having holding companies in the Cayman Islands and Hungary.
But Roque quickly denied the allegations, saying: “I cannot be wrong that the President was not referring to ABS-CBN. Documentary evidence would show that it was Congress who threw out the franchise application of ABS-CBN. That cannot be attributed to the President.”
“I am not spinning. I am repeating what the President said, that he takes pride in dismantling the Ayalas and MVP,” he said.
On Monday President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday tagged the Ayalas and Lopezes as the bedrock of oligarchy in the Philippines that he claimed to have dismantled, citing alleged violations by companies owned by the family conglomerates.
The President’s statement was contained in the unaired portion of his July 13 speech in Jolo, Sulu, an audio file of which was obtained by media.
A taped video of his Jolo speech that was broadcast Tuesday morning on state-run PTV4, as well as an official transcript of it, did not contain these remarks.
Duterte says he “dismantled the oligarchy” in the country without declaring martial law.
The President’s tirade came three days after a House of Representatives committee voted against a new ABS-CBN franchise, fulfilling Duterte’s earlier threats against the network.
Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte was not referring to the Lopez family, who owns ABS-CBN Corp. when he said he has dismantled the oligarchy in a recent speech in Sulu because the Lopezes continue to be a “major player” in the industry.
Roque said even if the franchise of ABS-CBN was not renewed, the Lopezes are still active in other business ventures such as Rockwell Land Corp. and First Gen Corp. among others.
“The Lopezes have not been dismantled. They have other businesses. They have First Gen. They’re still a major player. They’re the only player as far as Lopez PR & Marketing Group is concerned. They are still active in real estate. They still have Rockwell. What they lost is ABS-CBN and it’s because they have no franchise,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.
Roque said the President should not be blamed for the network’s shutdown because there is also “documentary evidence” to show that it is a congressional panel that denied to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.
“We have to go by what the Constitution says. The Constitution says it is only Congress that can grant a franchise,” he said.
He said Duterte was only referring to oligarchs who he himself made public threats against such as tycoon Lucio Tan, Manuel V. Pangilinan, and the Ayalas who earned Duterte’s ire due to past issues.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said dismantling oligarchy in the country takes structural reform and an overhaul of existing laws that allowed oligarchy to persist.
Without these necessary structural reforms, he expressed fears that oligarchs would only be replaced by cronies.
Drilon made the statement a day after the President claimed that he had dismantled oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law. The opposition senator, however, said it takes more than that.
“What is it in our legal system that makes oligarchy possible? To me, we must study that. Structural reform is necessary,” Drilon said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Webinar.
As a matter of policy, he noted that they are against oligarchy and the remedy is to look at the legal structure to understand why oligarchy persists.
Drilon said he is willing to work with the administration to review the current system and enact measures that can prevent all forms of oligarchy.
He said the lack of an anti-dynasty law allows oligarchy to continue.
An opposition congressman said on Wednesday said that President Duterte blurred the difference between ‘big business’ and ‘oligarchy’ when he claimed that he has dismantled the “bedrock of oligarchy.”
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Duterte “erroneously appears to automatically equate ‘big business’ with ‘oligarchy’ when there are essential differences between the two.
“Big business” refers to huge business and financial organizations that invest to help the government achieve economic development, and in the process assure the return of their investments, Lagman said.
On the other hand, “an oligarchy perpetrates itself to capture and run government through chosen proxies. It literally means the ‘rule of the few’ who control political and economic power by dictating government policies,” he added.
“The eventual primary characteristic of an oligarchy is tyrannical tendencies and propensity for excesses, just like in a one-man rule.”
Udenna Corp. said Wednesday the rumors circulating that it was interested in acquiring the frequencies of shuttered ABS-CBN broadcast operations were “unfounded and completely false.”
Udenna is consistent in stating that the company’s priorities “do not include broadcasting,” Udenna group spokesperson Raymond Zorilla said in a statement.
“It has come to our attention that there have been certain speculations going around on social media saying that the Udenna Group is associated with a reported broadcasting entity interested in acquiring the broadcast frequencies left behind by ABS-CBN. These are unfounded and completely false,” Zorilla said. With PNA