In this Dec. 30, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during his visit to the earthquake victims at the M'lang National High School in Cotabato.
Presidential Photo/Toto Lozano
Duterte won't meddle with ABS-CBN franchise renewal, says Palace
( - January 3, 2020 - 4:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite being vocal on his position against ABS-CBN, President Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere with the franchise renewal of the media giant, according to his spokesman.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the Congress has the prerogative to grant franchise on the network.

"The President will not interfere with that prerogative unless there is an evident and brazen grave abuse of its authority that imperils the very life of the state as well as such abuse not only contravenes the rights of the people but its general welfare is likewise put at risk following the doctrine of salum est suprema lex (The welfare of the people is the supreme law)," Panelo said in a statement.

This was in response to the statement of Sen. Leila de Lima, who said the prerogative of the Congress to grant legislative franchise should not be based on the "personal whims of a madman."

"It is apparent that these attacks against the ABS-CBN is just part of a bigger, systematic effort to subjugate Filipino companies under the political interests operating through Malacañang, both local and foreign," De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.

The detained senator added that the president's attacks against Filipino corporations operating public utilities and franchises show his intent to replace them with cronies or China-backed entities.

According to De Lima, the decision of the Congress on ABS-CBN's franchise would serve as a "litmus test" for the senators' and congressmen's commitment to free press and democracy.

"ABS-CBN should stand firm against these despotic attacks and remain confident of their crucial role in our democracy," De Lima said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 26, 2020 - 6:27pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

May 26, 2020 - 6:27pm

A labor group says it continues to support the re-opening of the ABS-CBN Corp. through the enactment of pending bills at the Lower House for its renewed fresh 25-year franchise.

"While we recognize the justness of the previous labor cases being involved by the ABS-CBN management to their contractual workers in the past, we believe that there were proper and legitimate forum and venue where labor disputes were being settled including the Department of Labor and Employment through its National Labor Relations Commission, National Conciliation and Mediation Boards among other local courts," says Defend Jobs Philippines.

May 26, 2020 - 10:45am

Solicitor General Jose Calida declines the invitation to attend the House of Representatives hearing on the pending bills concerning the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of the House committee on legislative franchises, Calida notes that his office had filed a quo warranto petition questioning the validity of ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court.

"The sub judice rule prohibits the undersigned, as the statutory counsel of both the Republic and the NTC, from sharing views and recommendations to relative merits of G.R. No. 251358 and G.R. No. 252119, respectively," Calida says.

May 19, 2020 - 5:06pm

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says they have decided to forego with the provisional franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN until Oct. 31, 2020. 

“I together with the House of Representatives leadership have decided to forego with the provisional franchise and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS-CBN franchise,” says Cayetano.

May 19, 2020 - 9:58am

Solicitor General Jose Calida declines to attend the Senate hearing on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN as the issues to be discussed are prohibited from public discussion outside the court.

The issues on supposed violations of ABS-CBN's franchise are pending before the Supreme Court.

"Thus, these bring the case under the sub judice rule which prohibits the Solicitor General as petitioner and officer of the court from sharing his views and commenting on the merits of said case to maintain 'the dignity and authority of the court' in the administration of impartial justice," Calida says in a statement Tuesday.

May 19, 2020 - 9:20am

The House of Representatives legislative francise committee will look into labor issues, tax evasion cases, citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez when it hears the franchise application of ABS-CBN.

According to a report from The STAR, the House panel will also discuss the network's issuance of Philippine depository receipts to non-Filipino citizens, operations in pay-per-view channel and supposed political biases in coverage.

These issues, however, have already been tackled in Senate in February, wherein the Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Justice and National Telecommunications Commission already cleared ABS-CBN of these allegations.

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