Duterte: I am a casualty of the Lopezes

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Duterte: I am a casualty of the Lopezes
File photo dated May 6 shows a security guard passing by the logo of ABS-CBN Corporation at the network’s facade a day it was shut down by the National Telecommunications Commission.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — It did not take long for President Rodrigo Duterte to hit his political enemies in his fifth SONA on Monday, doing so within the first few minutes of an address that was supposed to be about the state of the nation. 

Right off the bat, Duterte once again brought up the subject of oligarchs, saying that he was a casualty of the Lopez family during the 2016 elections.

He also slammed Sen. Franklin Drilon for linking him to the oligarchy as well because of his relatives in government positions, which he said makes him "sad."

"Great wealth enables economic elites and corporations to influence public policy to their advantage. Media is a powerful tool in the hands of oligarchs like the Lopezes who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures. I am a casualty of the Lopezes during the 2016 election," the chief executive said. 

He earlier said he had forgiven ABS-CBN Corp. and was neutral to the issue, though he mentioned the Lopez family in a speech shortly after the beleaguered company's franchise was denied.

That mention was edited out of his speech by the Presidential Communications Operations Office later on, sparking fresh doubts on the Palace communications team's transparency.

ABS-CBN frequencies to be used for education

Although he did not explicitly mention ABS-CBN, Duterte said that "TV frequencies reverted back to government" should be used for "uninterrupted" quality education as learning shifts to distance learning during the pandemic, directing government to come up with implementation for these frequencies.

However, the National Telecommunications Commission is yet to issue a ruling on what it intends to do with ABS-CBN's frequencies after the Lopez-led network was denied a congressional franchise.

It is also still unclear whether or not the national government actually has the infrastructure and equipment to use the frequencies previously employed by the broadcast giant.

The prospect of distance learning itself has been met with much scrutiny, with many advocates raising lack of access to the internet and to gadgets as a barrier to online learning.

Duterte also added that the government is building up the public education network to connect all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide. "Life that is lost is lost forever. Education that is delayed can be recovered," he said.

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