President Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere with the franchise renewal of major television network ABS-CBN, Malacañang said on Friday, January 3.
This is because Congress has the prerogative to grant the network’s franchise, according to
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“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.
His statement was in response to Senator Leila De Lima’s statement that Congress’ right to grant a 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,” she said.
Over the years, Duterte has been vocal about his stance against the network giant.
He claimed ABS-CBN “swindled” him by not airing his paid political advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign as well as warned it to sell the network because getting its franchise renewed by the Congress was unlikely.
ABS-CBN’s current franchise was approved through Republic Act No. 7966 on March 30, 1995. It is set to expire on March 30, 2020.
De Lima noted that the Congress’ decision on ABS-CBN’s franchise would serve as a “litmus test” for the lawmakers’ 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,” the detained senator noted.