Palace sees no reason for Duterte to veto ABS-CBN franchise bill

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – President Rodrigo Duterte has no reason to veto the bill granting a new 25-year franchise to local media giant ABS-CBN Corp. once it reaches his table, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque guaranteed that Duterte would not reject ABS-CBN’s bid to renew its franchise if the majority of lawmakers sees valid ground to once again allow the network’s broadcast operations.

“Sa tingin ko, wala naman pong dahilan para i-veto ng Presidente iyang ABS-CBN franchise (I think there is no reason for the President to veto [the bill seeking the renewal of] ABS-CBN’s franchise),” Roque said, when quizzed as to how Duterte will act once Congress approves the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN in a radio interview.

ABS-CBN stopped the operations of its television and radio stations nationwide on Tuesday, or a day after the expiration of its franchise, following the order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The NTC on Tuesday directed ABS-CBN to halt its operations since the local media giant’s legislative franchise already expired on May 4.

Roque maintained that NTC’s latest decision against ABS-CBN can only be challenged before competent courts.

He also reiterated that only Congress can decide on whether ABS-CBN deserves to get a fresh franchise.

“Talaga pong tanging ang Kongreso lang po ang may kapangyarihang mag-desisyon kung magkakaroon muli ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN (Only Congress has the power to decide on whether ABS-CBN should be given new franchise),” Roque said.

The 11 bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise remain pending in the House of Representatives.

House lawmakers need to first approve a consolidated franchise bill before senators can approve a similar measure, Roque said.

The bill, once ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, will then be submitted to Duterte’s office for his signature.

Duterte, who repeatedly lambasted ABS-CBN for its supposed failure to air his 2016 campaign advertisements and for its alleged biased reporting against his administration, was accused of being behind the network’s closure.

Roque belied such claim, stressing that Duterte had already forgiven ABS-CBN following the apology issued by the broadcast firm’s president and chief executive officer, Carlo Katigbak, in February this year.

“Ngayon po, wala na po. Nag-hupa na ‘yung galit (Now, he’s okay [with ABS-CBN]. His anger has subsided),” he said.

Roque said Duterte was even grateful that ABS-CBN is helping in the country’s fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said the only way for ABS-CBN to get another franchise is to secure the nod of the majority of lawmakers.

“Ang remedy, bukas po ang Kongreso, kumuha po kayong prangkisa sa Kongreso (The remedy is to get a franchise from Congress since it already resumed its session),” Roque said. (PNA)

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