MANILA - Sen. Franklin Drilon said Tuesday he owed nothing to the Lopez family, saying some of his election ads were not aired by ABS-CBN before the 2016 election.
Contrary to the allegation of President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, Drilon said he was defending press freedom and not the Lopezes when he criticized the rejection of ABS-CBN’s application for a fresh franchise.
“Puwede po akong tumayo at sabihin sa harap ng buong mundo, wala po akong utang na loob sa mga Lopezes. Kaibigan ko po ang mga ‘yan, pareho kaming taga-Iloilo, pero wala akong utang na loob,” Drilon told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
(I can stand and say in front of the whole world that I have no debt of gratitude to the Lopezes. I am friends with them, we are from Iloilo, but I owe them nothing.)
ABS-CBN even failed to fully air some election ads that Drilon paid for during the 2016 elections, he said.
“Ni-reimburse lang ako afterwards. Sa tingin ko talagang kasama iyon sa patakaran. Naubusan ng espasyo, oras,” he said.
(I was just reimbursed afterwards. I think that’s part of the protocol. They ran out of space, airtime.)
Duterte from early in his term had accused ABS-CBN of failing to air his 2016 election ads and said in December that he would ensure the network was “out.”
The rejection of ABS-CBN’s license renewal by a House committee dominated by Duterte’s allies brings a “chilling effect” on other media outlets and deprives the public of a source of vital information during the coronavirus pandemic, said Drilon.
The closure of ABS-CBN’s free television and radio services also puts 11,000 jobs at risk at a time when millions of Filipinos are already employed, he said.
The opposition senator said he did not expect Duterte’s tirades against him during the SONA. Some analysts and officials had expected Duterte to outline his pandemic plan during his speech before lawmakers.
“Hindi ko inaakala dahil sa maliwanag naman na noong kinampihan ko ang ABS-CBN, iyon po ay dahil sa aking tingin, hindi tama at masama ang dating para sa ating press freedom,” said Drilon. “Ang ipinaglaban ko po, press freedom. Hindi ko po ipinaglaban ang mga Lopezes.”
(I did not expect it because it was clear that I did not side with ABS-CBN because I think its closure is wrong and will negatively impact our press freedom. I fought for press freedom. I didn’t fight for the Lopezes.)
Duterte asked: Where's pandemic roadmap in SONA?
WATER CONCESSION AGREEMENT
Drilon also denied that Duterte’s claim that he was involved with a water concession agreement facilitated by his former law firm. The senator said he was into labor practice, not corporate affairs.
“Sinusumpa ko po, hindi ko pa nakikita iyong itsura ng water concession agreement na iyan. Talaga pong on the grave of my parents, sinasabi ko po, wala akong kinalaman d’yan,” he said.
(I swear, I’ve never even seen what that water concession agreement looks like. On the grave of my parents, I insist I have no hand there.)
Duterte also used his penultimate SONA to castigate Drilon over his proposal to ban political dynasties if government wants to dismantle oligarchy.
The senator said he had pushed for the ban since 1995. He filed a new bill against political dynasties in 2016.
“Tama po iyan, ang oligarkiya ay hindi dapat manatili sa atin. Ngunit sabi ko, bawat administrasyon, paglabas ng isa, may papasok na iba, and’yan pa rin iyong oligarkiya. Ang kailangan siguro natin structural change, pagbabago ng ating sistema,” he said.
(It’s right, the oligarchy should be dismantled. But I said, in every administration, when one leaves, another enters, the oligarchy is still there. Perhaps what we need is structural change, change in our system.)
“We should rise above our interests for the interest of the nation,” he told his fellow lawmakers.
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