Duterte rejects unaired ad refund, tells ABS-CBN to give P2.6 million to charity

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2020 08:27 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2020 08:57 PM

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MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said ABS-CBN Corp. should just give his P2.6 million refund for unaired political advertisements to charity.

“'Huwag na. Ibigay na lang nila sa any charitable institution of their choice,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang when asked if he would accept the refund.

(No. They should just give it to any charitable institution of their choice.)

ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo L. Katigbak admitted during a Senate panel inquiry on the company’s compliance with its franchise that the media firm failed to air about P7 million in local ads ordered by then presidential candidate Duterte.

Katigbak clarified that all of Duterte's national political ads in the 2016 elections were aired but some of his local ads worth P7 million could not be accommodated due to a first-come, first served policy.

Only 2 minutes of local ads can be aired in an hour and many spots were already ordered on May 3, 2016, 4 days ahead of the last day of the campaign period, said Katigbak. 

"Our policy on all our ads is first come, first served... There had been many previous telecast orders that came in ahead of the President's telecast order," he said. 

The ABS-CBN chief said around P4 million was refunded and accepted by the Duterte camp, but that the network was “delayed” in giving back the remaining P2.6 million in ad money and the amount "was no longer accepted by the President."

"On this issue, we acknowledge our shortcoming in our failure to release the refund in a timely manner," Katigbak said. He added that the company adopted in 2019 a policy of returning the money from unused pol ads within 7 days. 

Also on Wednesday, Duterte said he was accepting the network's apology for airing a negative political advertisement paid for by his critic, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. 

Katigbak explained to senators last Monday that the Fair Elections Act allowed negative political ads and that the company was just following the law. 

“Yes. Nandiyan 'yan. I accept the apology, of course,” Duterte said.

The President, however, clarified that the fate of the network’s franchise would still depend on Congress. He previously threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s license to operate which expires in May.

“But fundamentally, really, ang decision nasa House ngayon, not so much of the Senate because the Constitution says all of these things must originate from the Lower House,” he said.

“The critical move is in the House and I tell you, I am not going to interfere. Wala talaga ako,” he added.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has said that the ABS-CBN franchise renewal bills are not urgent, and that they may be taken up in May w hen Congress resumes session after the summer break. 

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