MANILA— A 4-year-old TV ad showing children questioning then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s language and behavior was resurrected at a Senate committee hearing on ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise on Monday.
But as in the bitter presidential campaign in 2016, the replay only served to remind the public today of the “truth” about the leader elected by more than 16 million Filipinos, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Tuesday.
“Totoo naman,” he told ABS-CBN News, describing the ad as a “forewarning.” “Hindi tayo nakinig doon sa mga bata.”
(The message was true... we didn’t listen to the children.)
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo had not replied to a request for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Christopher Go, the president’s longtime assistant who remains a fixture in his events, spent a good amount of Monday’s hearing detailing why Duterte was “hurt” by the Trillanes-funded ad.
The ad showed clips of the President cursing and making inappropriate gestures and remarks, with clips of children asking if what he was doing was right.
“Paano ito naging political ad? Ano ba ang priority ninyo? Black propaganda?" Go asked network executives.
(How did it become a political ad? What’s your priority? Black propaganda?)
ABS-CBN Corp president Carlo Katigbak later apologized “if we offended the president,” but maintained that the network was “just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads.”
Other senators recalled instances in previous elections where the network also failed to air some of their campaign ads for various reasons, and returned corresponding payments.
Such was the case for the opposition Otso Diretso’s candidates in last year’s senatorial elections, Sen. Francis Pangilinan recalled, but maintained it was no reason to close down a TV network.
“Lumabas nga na napaka-petty,” Trillanes said after hearing of Duterte’s complaints during the Senate inquiry.
(Their pettiness shows.)
The ad was “allowed by law,” James Jimenez, spokesman of the Commission on Elections, told ABS-CBN, citing the Fair Election Act.
The law defines an “election campaign" or "partisan political activity" as “any act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office.”
Political advertisements can “promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office,” according to the law.
But more than the negative ad, Trillanes described efforts to shut down ABS-CBN as a “classic shakedown,” allegedly to allow people close to the president to take over.
Duterte earlier told the network’s owners in a speech to “just sell” the company.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s chief lawyer, earlier filed a quo warranto petition to take ABS-CBN off the air for allegedly violating the terms of its franchise.
The network told a Senate hearing Monday that it has been compliant with franchise provisions.
“They will take over and they will control the largest TV network (in the country) and use it for their own political agenda,” Trillanes alleged.
The inquiry headed by Sen. Grace Poe was seen to have put pressure on the House of Representatives to finally act on bills seeking a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN.
That day, the the House committee on legislative franchises announced that it would begin accepting position papers on the proposed franchise renewal.
“Congress sets its own pace... if it’s slow, then it’s slow. Then that is the characteristic of the current Congress,” said PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, a member of the committee and author of an ABS-CBN franchise renewal bill.
Asked on ANC’s Early Edition what was keeping the chamber from acting on the renewal, he said: “As with anything in Congress, everything is a leadership call... It is what it is. I’m sorry but it’s really just a leadership call.”