MANILA - Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go on Tuesday denied allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte was referring to ABS-CBN when the chief executive said he was happy to "dismantle an oligarchy" without declaring martial law.
Duterte was referring to the government's continuous crusade against corrupt government officials and businesses who are trying to abuse the system, said Go, who served as the President's longtime aide before getting elected to the Senate.
"Sa pagkakaintindi ko (Based on my understanding), the President was not pertaining to any specific case but was talking about the impact of the administration’s continuing fight against corruption," Go said in a statement.
"Dahil sa laban nating ito, unti-unti na ring nabubuwag ang sistema ng oligarkiya sa bansa, without the need of declaring martial law," he added.
(Because of this crusade, the system of oligarchy in our country is slowly being dismantled, without the need of declaring martial law.)
Duterte, in a speech before soldiers in Jolo, Sulu, said that he can die happily knowing that he has toppled oligarchs who "take advantage of their political power."
Duterte did not mention any names, based on the taped video of the speech that was aired and the official transcript released.
The remarks were made after his allies in the House of Representatives voted last Friday to deny ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise in fulfillment of his threats in the past.
Critics allege that Duterte's comments before against the network betrays his spokesman's claim about his neutrality on the ABS-CBN franchise issue.
Senate Committee on Labor chair Joel Villanueva warned that investors may be turned off by the ABS-CBN franchise denial as it can "send a signal" that the government can pick on oligarchs and other legitimate businesses.
"To deny the franchise of a company which has no clear violations of our laws send a signal that politicians can stop a business operation on a whim," Villanueva said in a statement.
"This is not a conducive climate for investment and therefore contrary to public welfare," he said.
Go justified the President's rhetoric against oligarchs saying that the chief executive's statements against alleged "corruption and abusive practices stems from his love for country."
"That is why when oligarchs, terrorists, criminals and abusive or corrupt officials try to harm or take advantage of the people, in the eyes of the President, they are the enemies who threaten our democratic way of life," Go said.
"He (Duterte) will not hesitate to fight them to protect the interests of the ordinary Filipinos," he said.
A recent SWS survey showed that 3 out of 4 Filipinos are in favor of ABS-CBN's continued operations.
The Makati Business Club, advertising and public relations firms, as well as several universities and colleges also condemned Congress' decision to deny ABS-CBN's franchise renewal bid.