Palace admits ABS-CBN franchise denial leaves void, urges public to 'move on'

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 02:58 PM

ABS-CBN employees and supporters hold a noise barrage outside the network's headquarters along Sgt. Esguerra Avenue in Quezon City on Sunday to protest the denial of ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Duterte respects denial of ABS-CBN franchise

MANILA - Malacañang admitted on Monday that the denial of ABS-CBN's new franchise application leaves a void in public messaging, conceding that the media giant has the widest reach in the country, even as it called for respect for the lawmakers' decision.

Whether the public agrees or disagrees with ABS-CBN's new franchise bid rejection, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the decision in Congress should be respected because it went through the process.

"Maski po tayo manghinayang, eh tapos na po ang boksing. At dumaan na po sa proseso, sang-ayon sa Saligang Batas. Wala na po tayong magagawa. Let’s move on," Roque said, when asked how ABS-CBN could have helped the Department of Education implement the blended learning approach when classes begin in August amid the COVID-19 crisis.

(Even if we feel sorry, the boxing match is done. It went through the process as provided by the Constitution. We can't do anything else. Let's move on.)

Claiming that he, too, is a "Kapamilya," Roque said the franchise denial leaves a void especially in the government's messaging efforts given that ABS-CBN is the Philippines' top broadcasting company.

"Mayroon po bang malaking kawalan dahil hindi nabigyan ng franchise ang ABS-CBN? Aaminin ko po, meron po," he said.

(Is there a void because ABS-CBN wasn't given a franchise? I admit, there is.)

"Nung ako po’y naging tagapagsalita, malaki rin po naging utang na loob ko dahil number 1 naman po talaga sa reach ang ABS-CBN. Nalulungkot po ako na dumating sa punto na hindi po na-renew ang prangkisa," he added.

(When I became a spokesperson, I had a huge debt of gratitude to ABS-CBN because it was really number 1 in terms of reach. I am sad that it has reached a point that it's franchise would no longer be renewed.)

"Masakit din po as akin ang nangyari sa ABS-CBN. Hindi naman po sikreto na Kapamilya rin ako. Nakilala po ako dahil sa ABS-CBN, panahon pa ni Jing Magsaysay ng ANC. So, malaki ang utang na loob ko sa ABS-CBN."

(What happened to ABS-CBN pains me. It's not a secret that I am also a Kapamilya. I became known because of ABS-CBN, from the time of Jing Magsaysay on ANC. So, I owe ABS-CBN a huge debt of gratitude.)

The House panel on legislative franchises voted on Friday to deny a new franchise for ABS-CBN Corp which has ceased broadcast operations for more than 2 months in what was seen as a fulfillment of President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier promise. The company's previous franchise expired May 4.

On Dec. 3, 2019, Duterte told ABS-CBN that “I will see to it that you are out.” He said that it was better for the owners of ABS-CBN to just sell the network.

The rejection of ABS-CBN's new franchise application, seen also as an effort to stifle freedom of the press, drew criticism from other lawmakers, journalists, religious groups, schools, and other sectors.

DUTERTE RESPECTS HOUSE DECISION

Malacañang washed Duterte's hands off the issue, claiming anew that the chief executive was neutral despite his repeated threats against ABS-CBN in the past.

"Nirerespeto po niya (Duterte) ang poder ng Kongreso dahil tanging mababang Kapulungan lang po ang maaring magsimula ng proseso para maaprubahan ang bagong prangkisa ng ABS-CBN. Respeto po dahil sa separation of powers among co-equal branches of government," Roque said.

(He respects Congress because only the House of Representatives can initiate the process for the approval of a new franchise for ABS-CBN. There is respect because of the separation of powers among co-equal branches of government.)

"Decision po yan ng Kongreso. The most the President can do is remain neutral - walang pabor yung tututol, walang galit dun sa susuporta. Hinayaan po niyang bumoto sang-ayon sa kanilang kunsensya yung mga kongresistsa at bumoto na po sila," Roque added.

(That is the decision of Congress. The most the President can do is remain neutral--no favors for those who will reject, and no anger towards those who supported. He let congressmen vote according to their conscience, and they have voted.)

Roque, a former human rights lawyer, disagreed with observations that the recent development is reminiscent of those happening under the leadership of a dictator.

"With all due respect, we disagree but we do so vehemently. Alam po natin ang nangyari doon sa panahon ng martial law, may prangkisa po, pinasara. Pero ang nangyari po ngayon, napaso ang prangkisa, hindi na-renew," he said.

(We know that ABS-CBN had a franchise during martial law but it was closed. But now, its franchise expired but was not renewed.)

ABS-CBN's shutdown on May 5 came nearly 50 years after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos seized the network after declaring martial law in 1972.

The Lopez family battled to regain the company's assets and resume broadcast soon after Corazon Aquino was swept to power through the 1986 Edsa Revolution that toppled Marcos.

The rejection of the broadcast giant's franchise puts around 11,000 workers at risk of losing their jobs, and the effect is expected to creep into other industries.

news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.