MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte is "of course neutral" on ABS-CBN Corp, even as he reportedly hurled fresh tirades against the network after the Congress rejection of its franchise renewal, his spokesperson said Wednesday.
Duterte told troops in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday morning that he could now die happy knowing that he had "dismantled" the oligarchy in the country without declaring martial. He did not mention ABS-CBN in a video aired by state-run Radio Television Malacañang.
However, an audio recording of the whole speech showed that Duterte took a swipe at the network, saying: "Yun namang ABS-CBN binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas."
(ABS-CBN defiled me. But I said if I win, I will dismantle the oligarchy in the Philippines.)
"Of course he's neutral because the Lopezes are still up and about," his spokesman Harry Roque told ANC.
Duterte in December said he would see to it that the network is "out" and from early in his term had accused it of failing to air his 2016 election ads. Despite this, his aides had sought to distance the President from Friday's rejection of ABS-CBN franchise application by a House committee dominated by his allies.
"I cannot be wrong. Documentary evidence shows it was Congress who actually threw out the franchise application of ABS-CBN," Roque said.
The Lopezes "have not been dismantled", given their other businesses in energy and real estate, he added.
The Palace official declined to comment on Inquirer's report on the President's remark because he did not attend the Jolo event.
"I will not comment on an alleged transcript that I do not have any personal knowledge of," he said.
He also quoted Duterte's former aide, Sen. Christopher Go, who said the President was referring to the government's crusade against corrupt government officials and businesses when he commented on oligarchs.
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