'Trabaho nila 'yun': Palace hands off on Senate inquiry on ABS-CBN franchise


Posted at Feb 24 2020 09:57 AM | Updated as of Feb 24 2020 10:39 AM

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Malacañang is taking a hands-off approach on the Senate Committee on Public Services hearing on ABS-CBN Corp. this Monday, saying it is the Senate's job to craft laws. 

"Sabi nga ni Presidente: trabaho nila 'yun e. Pabayaan mo silang mag trabaho. The constitution of their work is to legislate. Number 2 to investigate in aid of legislation," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio DZMM interview. 

He said President Duterte's rants against the network are a personal thing.

"Kung ano man ang mga nasabi niya laban sa network, 'yun ay nanggagaling dun sa nangyari sa kanya. Personal na bagay 'yun. Pag sinabi niya na 'I'll shut down', hindi ibig sabihin literal na isha-shutdown mo.' Sinasabi niya, I will shut down 'yung illegal na practice, 'yung mga malpractice. Pagdating sa franchise, wala siyang pakialam dun. Kongreso 'yun."

President Duterte earlier promised to “make sure” that ABS-CBN would be out of broadcast, citing complaints over its coverage of his administration and unaired political ads in 2016. He later told its owners to “just sell” the business.

Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate ABS-CBN's franchise, citing among others its alleged violation of the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in mass media as well as the legality of the company's Pay-Per-View services on a free TV franchise. 

In response, ABS-CBN said Calida's move appeared to be "an effort to shut down ABS-CBN to the serious prejudice of millions of Filipinos who rely on the network for news, entertainment and public service." 

The leading network also insisted that it "complies with all pertinent laws governing its franchise and has secured all necessary government and regulatory approvals for its business operations." 

Should Calida's petition prosper, about 11,000 ABS-CBN employees, as well as workers from related industries, could be hurt by retrenchments. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the possible shutdown of ABS-CBN Corp. may "have some adverse effects on investments" as tit-for-tat about the Philippines' largest broadcast station creates "uncertainty."

"As an academic and economist, I think it will have some adverse effects on investments. There will be some discouragement," Pernia told reporters.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, however, said investors also look for certainty in governance. 

"What investors also look for is that if there are rules, rules are implemented. If there are laws, laws are implemented," Dominguez said in a separate interview.

"The other thing that investors will appreciate is that we went through the legal process, that we followed the proper process to do things," he said. 

At least 11 bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN's franchise have yet to be heard in the House of Representatives. 

DZMM, February 24, 2020 ​