MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte is taking his fight against media up a notch by formally seeking to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Responding to questions in a media interview on Thursday, April 27, Duterte accused the network of “swindling.” He claimed ABS-CBN did not show his political ads during the 2016 campaign season though they were already paid for.
“[The franchise] has been there for 25 years. The law said it’s okay, only if you adhere to journalistic standards. What did you do to us? Estafa, swindling, not only me but Chiz Escudero, many of us. Son of a bitch, you collected outright then you commit estafa,” he said.
“So I will file a complaint. Congress, no need to renew it. But to operate is something else, so I will point this out, your garbage, then we’ll see,” he added in an ambush interview right after he gave a joint press statement with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, who was on a state visit.
Asked if he would “block” the franchise of ABS-CBN, Duterte said, “Yes, if you’re engaged in swindling.”
The President bared his decision to block the franchise renewal days after he signed a law renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN's rival, GMA Network.
House Bill 4349 seeking to renew the franchise granted to ABS-CBN for 25 years is still at the committee level. The franchise will expire in 2020. (READ: ABS-CBN franchise not for urgent renewal, clarifies lawmaker)
ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III had earlier sought to ease stockholders’ concerns about the franchise renewal in view of Duterte's rants against the company, saying the anger of an administration towards media is “part and parcel” of the work of media.
Lopez had assured ABS-CBN stockholders on April 9 that he didn't "anticipate any significant issues" with regards to the franchise renewal, saying the company had plenty of time to work on it.
He gave the assurance to his stockholders after the President, in a thinly veiled threat, said in a public address on March 30 that karma was sure to catch up with ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer for their supposed unfair reports on his presidency.
ABS-CBN has denied this. Chief Strategy Officer Raymund Miranda maintained the media company's "balanced" reporting.
"From a news and current affairs perspective, we have, and always will be, striving to report in a fair and balanced manner," he said. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.