President Rodrigo Duterte told his spokesperson Harry Roque to thank ABS-CBN Corp for its efforts in helping the country fight the COVID-19 crisis a day after NTC ordered the media company’s immediate closure.
“He has said that I should thank ABS-CBN for all the help that ABS-CBN has in fact extended, and I was even under instruction to enumerate the many things ABS-CBN has done in connection with COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
“In the same light that he has asked, in an unprecedented manner, forgiveness from 2 of the tycoons that he originally wanted me to file cases against so that they will be behind bars, he said that anyone who has helped the people in this time of crisis, I will be grateful to. That’s why if he could, he probably would have done something for the ABS-CBN franchise,” he added.
The now-closed media outlet “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” campaign has raised over P300 million worth of goods for the benefit of over 600,000 families affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
Duterte hands-off on ABS-CBN shutdown
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is “completely neutral” on the shutdown of ABS-CBN.
He also said Duterte could not put the franchise hearing as urgent because it involves “private interest,” said Roque.
“Kahit gusto po na makapagbigay ng prangkisa ng Presidente mismo, wala po siyang ganiyang kapangyarihan,” he said.
(Even if the President wants to grant the franchise, he has no power to do so.)
Roque also said the President “does not influence how Cabinet members would express their opinions” and “did not side with either” Solicitor General Jose Calida Calida or Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Office of the Solicitor General earlier warned NTC commissioners that they could face Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act charges if NTC would issue ABS-CBN Corp. and its affiliate ABS Convergence Inc. a provisional authority (PA) to operate after its franchise expires on May 4, 2020.
The Philippines’ largest network ABS-CBN Corporation which has been on the air in the last 73 years, officially signed off last night following the NTC’s cease and desist order.