MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's acceptance of the apology of ABS-CBN Corp. over the airing of a 2016 election paid ad that offended the chief executive.
"I'm very happy na napatawad na ng ating Pangulo because I've always told you, he's a spiritual person, hindi lang siya religious. And he's a just person," Cayetano told reporters at the sidelines of an orientation of a scholarship program in Taguig City.
(I'm very happy that our President forgave [ABS-CBN]. I've always told you, he's a spiritual person, he's not just religious. And he's a just person.)
Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in 2016, but lost to Vice President Leni Robredo. He was later appointed as foreign secretary in 2017, but quit in 2018 to run as congressman and vie for the top post in the House of Representatives.
Duterte forgiving ABS-CBN, Cayetano said, strengthens Congress' directive to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue the network a provisional permit to operate past its franchise expiration on May 4.
"I think it strengthens our position that NTC should give them provisional authority within their rules to operate," he said.
As Congress has yet to tackle bills seeking to grant the country's leading news and entertainment company a fresh 25-year franchise, Cayetano said they would never be "unfair" to ABS-CBN.
"'Yong mga gustong ipasara ang ABS, ako na ang nakikiusap, hintayin natin 'yong hearing para fair. Sinasabi natin naging unfair sa Duterte camp ang ABS, (so) let's not be unfair to ABS. Let's not do unto others what we think they did unto us," he said.
(To those who wanted ABS-CBN to close, I am asking you, let's wait for the hearing so it's fair. We're saying ABS-CBN was unfair to the Duterte camp, (so) let's not be unfair to ABS. Let's not do unto others what we think they did unto us.)
With only few session days left before Congress adjourns starting March 14 for the Lenten break, Cayetano said the Committee on Legislative Franchises is expected to conduct hearings when lawmakers convene in May.
"Walang dahilan magsarado ang ABS, unless hindi ma-grant ang franchise. So while we're deciding, walang dahilan na magsara," he said.
(There's no reason ABS-CBN should close, unless its franchise is not granted. So while we're still deciding, there's no reason for the network to shut down.)
Cayetano added, "Ang message ko lang, we're not taking any chances here. But nor are we letting ABS off the hook just like that. Because it's not about the President. It's really about the responsibilities of a network if we give them a 25-year franchise."
ABS-CBN operates free TV Channel 2 and radio DZMM.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.