Duterte says businesses seeking franchise should pay right amount of taxes
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on January 18, 2021.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi

Duterte says businesses seeking franchise should pay right amount of taxes

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 19, 2021 - 7:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has warned businesses seeking franchises that they "won't see the light of day" unless they pay the right amount of taxes, a remark that Malacañang said applies to shuttered broadcast giant ABS-CBN. 

Speaking during a televised public address last Monday, Duterte said some businesses seek protection from the government but failed to settle their financial obligations to the government. 

"You have seen how I criticize those who are not paying taxes and are riding on the popularity because it’s so popular. It’s a fad now to have these kind of shows...but yet abandoning their duty to government. And you ask protection from government in your business. In return, you pay your taxes correctly," the president said. 

"You do not pay your taxes correctly, that's what happened to you. So there will be no opening. I assure you all franchises won't be implemented, I won't implement until they settle their full accounts with government," he added. 

Duterte made the remark after some lawmakers filed bills granting a fresh franchise to ABS-CBN, which was forced to go off air and lay off thousands of workers last year because of the expiration of its franchise. The president, however, did not mention the television network in his hour-long address. 

"You are asking for a franchise. For all I care, you can have a thousand franchise. You will not see the light of day there until you come to government with clean hands. As they say, 'He who comes (into) equity must come with clean hands,'” Duterte said. 

Roque: Duterte's remark applies to all businesses

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed Duterte was referring to all businesses that are required to have franchises. 

"All of them are addressed to those applying for franchise and in so far as ABS-CBN is one of them, I guess it is a safe conclusion, it is also applicable to ABS-CBN but it applies to all those who want a franchise," Roque said at a press briefing yesterday. 

Asked whether Duterte is now setting conditions for the approval of ABS-CBN's franchise, Roque replied: "As I said, it is definitely applicable to ABS-CBN, was not referring specifically, so I cannot answer that question."

Duterte also talked about a company that he said is occupying "something like 44,000 square meters" but did not provide specifics. He said while some businesses are not paying the right amount of taxes, the poor are relying on the government for COVID-19 vaccines. 

"Wala akong galit. Bayaran mo lang ang gobyerno, ako sasaludo ako sa inyo limang beses in full attention. Hindi ako magalit. Presidente ako eh, ‘yung maliliit na bagay na ganoon personal (I am not angry. Just pay the government and I will salute you five times in full attention. I won't be angry. I am the President. These are small personal issues)," the president said.   

"But the bigger issue, the bigger picture in the background is really the unpaid taxes. That's for real. And no franchise will ever be implemented. Even if you are given 5,000 franchises, I won't implement it. Settle your accounts with government," he added. 
Duterte, who has accused ABS-CBN of defaming him during the 2016 election, clarified that the granting of a franchise does not mean that previous wrongdoings have been forgotten. 

"And before opening, we will have a short - short, very short serious talk. Do not compel me to do something which is not lawful. Just because you give them a franchise, it does not follow that all of their misdeeds in the past are condoned and forgiven," the President said. 

Last July, a House panel rejected a bill that would have granted ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, a development widely seen as a huge blow to press freedom. While Malacañang insists that Duterte has nothing to do with the House panel's decision, the President claimed in his fifth state of the nation address last year that he was a "casualty" of the Lopezes, the family that owns ABS-CBN. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos Recto have filed new bills granting a 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN but some lawmakers believe the renewal of the network's franchise requires the support of Malacañang. 

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