President Duterte has intensified his fight against the media by seeking to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcasting franchise.
Responding to questions today (Thursday, April 27), the president accused the network of “swindling,” claiming it failed to show his political ads during the election campaign even though they had been 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.”
Asked if he would block the franchise of ABS-CBN, Duterte said, “Yes, if you’re engaged in swindling.”
House Bill 4349 seeking to renew the franchise granted to ABS-CBN for 25 years is still at the committee level. The current franchise is due to expire in 2020.
The president’s words come just days after he signed a law renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN’s rival, GMA Network.
ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III as previously sought to allay stockholders’ fears that Duterte’s tirades against the company will affect its franchise renewal.
Last month we reported how the president lashed out at ABS-CBN and The Inquirer newspaper, calling them “sons of whores” and threatening them with karma for their critical coverage of his administration.
He said: See how they slant. I don’t know. But someday – I’m not scaring them – but someday, karma will come
“Inquirer, you are bullshit, also ABS-CBN, you publish trash. Someone should tell you, ‘You are sons of bitches, you went too far in your nonsense’.
“They’re shameless, those sons of whore journalists.”
ABS-CBN has denied this criticism. Chief Strategy Officer Raymund Miranda said: “From a news and current affairs perspective, we have, and always will be, striving to report in a fair and balanced manner.”
Yesterday, we reported that although it had climbed 11 places in its rankings, the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders still classes the Philippines as having a bad press freedom rating due to the president’s frequent threats against journalists.
The report said: “Although fewer journalists have been killed in connection to their work in recent years, Philippines continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for the media. Private militias, often hired by local politicians, silence journalists with complete impunity.
“The media are fairly free and diverse, but Rodrigo Duterte has alarmed media freedom defenders with his unveiled encouragement of violence against journalists.”
In answer to another question today, the president said that the New York Times had “got to stop publishing” after it ran a story entitled Let the World Condemn Duterte.
Asked his opinion on the piece, the president said: “Cannot even criticize your own mistake. Invading a country, making up excuses before the world, is that true? Then you have the gall to say stop? You’ve got to stop your publishing.”