MANILA - Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go’s efforts to sway President Rodrigo Duterte into reconsidering his stand on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise is unrelated to the actual process of granting the TV network a fresh license to operate, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Wednesday.
Panelo reiterated that granting ABS-CBN a new 25-year franchise depends on Congress.
But should Duterte heed Go's appeal, the President may no longer push through with his supposed plan to sue the network over unaired political advertisements during the 2016 elections, Panelo told reporters.
“Eh ‘di hindi na siya (Duterte) magmumura sa ABS-CBN. Baka mapatawad niya pa. Hindi niya na idemanda,” Panelo said at a press briefing.
(He would no longer curse at ABS-CBN. He might even forgive , and no longer sue.)
“Ang nangyayari kasi, yung galit niya (Duterte), napagkakamalan ng iba na konektado sa pag-grant ng franchise,” he added.
(Some people assume that the President’s anger is connected to the grant of the franchise.)
Panelo insisted anew that the President is hands-off over ABS-CBN's franchise woes even if Duterte previously threatened to block the company’s franchise renewal.
“Walang bearing yun. Paulit-ulit na natin sinasabi,” Panelo said.
(That has no bearing. We’ve been saying that repeatedly.)
Go, a long-time aide of the President, said Monday he would "appeal" to President Duterte to reconsider his stand on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, noting that 11,000 jobs may be at stake should the Philippines' leading media and entertainment company cease operations after its current franchise expires in May.
"I will appeal to him for a simple reason na ayaw ko may mawalan ng trabaho (I don’t want anyone to lose a job). Bahala na siya (It's up to him). It's his decision," Go told reporters when asked what he will advise the President after attending a Senate inquiry on the media network's alleged franchise violations.
Panelo said Go’s remarks were also the senator’s way of prodding the House of Representatives to “do its job” in relation to the franchise renewal of the TV network.
“Ang sinasabi niya, (Go) gawan na ng paraan pero huwag niyong gawang politika yan. In other words, he’s prodding the House of Representatives to do its job to deliberate. And if the franchise is or has complied, or whether if the applicant has complied with whatever requirements the law imposes, then they should renew,” Panelo said.
(What he’s trying to say is, find a way but don’t turn it into a political issue.)
Duterte has frequently criticized ABS-CBN for allegedly refusing to air some of his campaign ads in 2016 and for showing an ad critical of him that was paid for by his critic, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
At the Senate's Monday hearing, ABS-CBN Corp President and CEO Carlo Katigbak said the company did not intend to offend Duterte in airing the ad paid for by Trillanes.
The ad featured clips of Duterte using foul language and making offensive gestures, the propriety of which were questioned by children. It was pulled out after Duterte's camp sought a temporary restraining order against it from a Taguig court.
"We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network. We felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads," he said.
Katigbak also explained in the hearing that all national political advertisements of Duterte were aired, but not the local ads due to limited airtime.
Malacañang said accepting ABS-CBN’s apology would depend on the President even as it noted that the TV network should have admitted fault long ago.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.