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Duterte threatens to block ABS-CBN franchise, curses at NYT

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech before the San Beda Law Alumni Association during the Testimonial Dinner Reception at the Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in San Juan City on July 14. Toto Lozano/PPD
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to block ABS-CBN's legislative franchise renewal and once again cursed at the New York Times over coverage critical of him.
 
Duterte slammed ABS-CBN over alleged swindling and estafa and said that he would file a complaint against the network.
 
"So, I will file a complaint. Congress, no need to renew it. But to operate is something else, so I will point this out, yung basura ninyo (your garbage), then we’ll see," he said.
 
"[The franchise] has been there for about 25 years. Sabi ng batas okay na, (the law says it's okay) only if you adhere to journalistic [standards]. Ang ginawa ninyo sa amin (What you did to us was) estafa, swindling, not only me but (Chiz) Escudero, marami pa yan (there's more). P***** i** harap-harapan magkolekta kayo tapos estafa ninyo kami (S** o* * b****, you'll collect money then you'll commit estafa)."
 

Franchises

 
Republic Act 3846 (RA 3846), the law on the regulation of radio stations and radio communications, requires commercial broadcasting corporations to secure a franchise from Congress in order to operate. A franchise undergoes the same process a bill goes through as it is granted in the form of a law. 
 
The premise of RA 3846 is that airwaves are not owned by broadcast stations but by the government. The latter can grant the former the temporary privilege of using the airwaves in the form of a franchise.
 
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, which has also been critical of laspes in media ethics, last year criticized the need for congressional approval of a franchise as it could be used as a weapon to control media.
 
It compared the Philippine process with the United States where it said applications for the operation of  broadcast stations is "relatively easier."  
 
"[I]n the United States... only the independent Federal Communications Commission is responsible for granting operation permits and renewing licenses. Applications are paperless and accomplished online," the CMFR said.
 
Duterte's threat to the network came after the release of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, where the Philippines rose in ranking from 138th in 2016 to 127th this year.
 
The index, however, voiced concerns about Duterte's "unveiled encouragement of violence against journalists."
 
ABS-CBN has earned the ire of the president and his supporters for airing a negative advertisement paid for by Duterte critic and then vice presidential candidate Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

NYT 'must stop' publication

Duterte also lashed at the New York Times (NYT) over its recent editorial tagging him as "a man who must be stopped" over human rights violations. The president said that it is NYT's publication that must stop.
 
"Well, it's about time that their publication also must stop. Amerikano (Americans) you're playing like the morals. You didn't realize that you invaded a country in the name of God?" he said.
 
"Remember the time they invaded a sovereign country like Panama, kidnapped the president and brought him to America to stand trial and he's serving prison time there... Sa Iraq you invaded Iraq. Why? Because of the weapons of mass destruction. How many died? What was found there? Nothing... New York Times a** h***... You better stop your publishing."
 
Duterte was referring to Manuel Noriega, who was prosecuted and jailed in the US for drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in 1992. The Panamanian dictator was extradited to France in 2010 for a conviction for money laundering and extradited again to Panama in 2011 to face a conviction for murder and to be held accountable for human rights violations there.
 
 
NYT has also criticized Duterte before over the spate of killings in his drug war.
 

Duterte: 'Who's corrupt?'

Duterte also vowed to get back within six months the government property that is allegedly now in the hands of the owners of Inquirer.
 
"The oligarchs, the number one among them are the Prietos, the owners of Inquirer. You can be sure that I will proceed with you harshly. Or return the property of the people. How much did you pay for it? Maybe just one peso," he said.
 
Duterte said the Mile Long property in Makati is owned by the Rufinos who are now connected to the Prietos through marriage.
 
"I assure you, after all of these things here, I will start to recover what is government’s property, including ‘that Inquirer. The loudest, one of the loudest of it all," the president said.
 
The president also accused the paper of being a phony crusader and a crony.
 
"From Marcos crony to Aquino... Corazon, you are cronies. You’ve always been a crony. And it has long expired, the lease of that property," he said.
 
Duterte also claimed that the Prietos had a P1.5-billion tax deficiency but former Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares allowed them to get away with it by paying just P8 million.
 
"You have to return and you have to pay your taxes. P1.5 billion…There is a pending case in the Ombudsman. And I urge the Ombudsman also to fast-track the case because it is property owned by the people," the president said.
 
 
"By this time the income of that property should be going to the National Treasury. We will run after them."
 
The president also badmouthed Inquirer.net editor-in-chief John Nery, whom he erroneously described as the successor of the late Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc
 
"Mukhang pera 'yang buang na 'yan…Sabihin mo sa kanya, ang kapal ng mukha niya (That fool is money-faced. Tell him he is thick-faced)," he said.
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