Palace has 'no stand' on lawmakers’ proposed sanctions vs ABS-CBN – Roque

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque distanced Malacañang from lawmakers’ proposed sanctions against ABS-CBN, saying the Palace takes “no stand” on moves to fine and seize the company’s headquarters after Congress rejected an application to renew the network’s franchise. 

Wala tayong komento diyan. ‘Yan po ay indibidwal na opinyon ng mga mambabatas (We have no comment on that. Those are the individual opinions of lawmakers)…. We respect their views but we take no stand,” Roque said in a press briefing on Monday, July 20. 

Roque was referring to sanctions eyed by Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla and Anakalusugan Representative Michael Defensor who held an online forum last Friday, July 17, to defend their decision to shut down the Philippines’ largest broadcasting network. 

Among the sanctions they proposed were to fine ABS-CBN some P1.97-trillion and seize the network’s headquarters in Quezon City.

Marcoleta had come up with the nearly P2 trillion figure, basing it on a P200 daily fine stretched over more than 5 years over alleged “violations” of its franchise. He also proposed “ejecting” the network from its base in Mother Ignacia, insisting on his claims that the Lopez family did not own it. 

During marathon hearings at the House of Representatives, ABS-CBN’s officials asserted it did not violate any law, while several government agencies such as the Department of Justice, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Department of Labor and Employment attested the network complied with government requirements. 

The network at the time also presented a title for the Mother Ignacia property and explained that it could not present an original one since it was up for reconstitution.

ABS-CBN's executives also said the Lopezes never lost ownership of the network when the Marcos government sequestered it in 1972 during Martial Law. This was the similar statamement by former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, who implemented Martial Law.

As Palace spokesperson, Roque  has repeatedly insisted President Rpodrigo Duterte has taken a "neutral" stance on the ABS-CBN franchise issue. Duterte, however, has long threatened  the network since 2017.

Duterte’s speech last July 13 in Jolo, Sulu, likewise saw the President claim he was “happy” to have “dismantled” the oligarchy. An edited version of the speech made no mention of ABS-CBN, but a copy of the full address obtained by Rappler saw Duterte making direct mention of the network. 

In the uncut version, Duterte claimed “Yun namang ABS-CBN, binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas. Ginawa ko.” (ABS-CBN, they ruined me. But I said, if I win, I will destroy the oligarchy of the Philippines. I did it.) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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