Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology, but Congress to decide

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology, but Congress to decide
Duterte, however, insisted that he would leave the ABS-CBN franchise renewal application up to Congress.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Saying he is just human, President Duterte accepted yesterday the apology of ABS-CBN television network for not airing his political advertisements in the 2016 elections, but maintained that the quo warranto case filed by the Office of the Solicitor General against the broadcast company would continue.

“I accept the apology, of course,” Duterte told reporters on the sidelines of the Ani ng Dangal Awards at Malacañang.

Duterte, however, insisted that he would leave the ABS-CBN franchise renewal application up to Congress.

The President distanced himself from Solicitor General Jose Calida, who filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate the network’s franchise over alleged illegal practices.

“The SolGen does not clear with me, unlike the secretary of justice. You call my attention or he will bring it up in the Cabinet,” Duterte said.

‘To err is human, to forgive divine’

Duterte said he is not keen on accepting the P2.6-million balance from the P7 million worth of ads, which the network failed to refund after the 2016 presidential elections.

“They can just give it to any charitable institution of their choice,” he said.

As a human being, Duterte said he could forgive ABS-CBN but he leaves the fate of the network’s franchise to Congress.

“I am just human, you know. I have kept a distance from the case. The House of Representatives and the Senate are deliberating on the franchise renewal,” the President said. “The decision must come from the lower house. Forget about all these hulabaloo, the ballgame is in the House.” 

“I tell you, I am not going to interfere, whether you believe me or not,” Duterte added.

During the Senate public services committee hearing on Monday, ABS-CBN officials testified on issues regarding the network’s franchise renewal application before Congress.

ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak apologized to the President if he was hurt over the non-airing of his political ads, but maintained the company merely complied with election laws. 

The network, however, aired the supposedly black propaganda paid for by former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, which featured clips of Duterte using foul language.

Senators slam Cayetano

Senators hit back at Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who they said resorted to name-calling after the Senate public services committee pushed through with its hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise.

Sen. Christopher Go said the issue of the network’s franchise renewal application, which has been languishing in the House, has been “heating up so let’s just do our jobs and keep in mind the interest of each Filipino, each worker.”

Cayetano on Monday called senators who attended the hearing of the committee, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, as “sipsip (suck ups)” and “epal (attention seeker)” as the franchise bill of ABS-CBN must originate from the House.

Poe, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sens. Sonny Angara and Joel Villanueva said the hearing was not on the franchise application per se but on the issues being raised against the network.

Poe said Cayetano’s “sipsip” remark “cheapens congressional debates,” adding that the hearing was part of their mandate to determine the compliance of ABS-CBN with the law as a franchise holder.

“When I deal with my counterparts from the House (of Representatives), at least, me personally, I think many of my colleagues, we try to maintain a level of respect and decorum because name-calling cheapens debates,” she said in an interview over ANC.

Go said he does not feel alluded to by Cayetano’s criticism.

Cayetano assured ABS-CBN that they would not padlock the network, adding that the House of Representatives would conduct an “objective and fair hearing” when it deliberates on its franchise renewal application.  – With Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla

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