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Apology too late

Francis Wakefield



Senator Bong Go makes his opening statement during the Senate hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise issues 24 February 2020. PHOTOGRAPH BY BOB DUNGO JR. FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE @tribunephl_bob

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo called it hubris that the embattled officials of the ABS-CBN media network have issued an apology for not airing President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign advertorial in 2016 only on Monday.

Facing the Senate, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak publicly atoned for the network officials’ lapse in judgment in not airing Mr. Duterte’s campaign video while allowing a campaign material negative to the former Davao City mayor’s presidential bid to be telecast during the last presidential race.

Neophyte Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go also had to remind Katigbak and the network officials that he had reserved and paid for the Duterte campaign materials’ broadcast, but ABS-CBN still favored the anti-Duterte video released by former Senator Antonio Trillanes.

The Trillanes-paid video aimed to besmirch Mr. Duterte’s name, Go said. Mr. Duterte and Go never got back the money they paid ABS-CBN for the adverts.

“At the end of this whole discussion, I think, is we are sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network. We felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak said.

Facing the Senate panel for ABS-CBN were Atty. Maximilian Uy and Atty. Mario Bautista, with top executives Martin Lopez, president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak, chief operating officer Ma. Socorro Vidanes and Mario Nepomuceno.

But Panelo quoted the President as saying, “You (ABS-CBN) are arrogant.”

“That’s what he called ‘hubris,’” Panelo said, reiterating that it is still up to the President whether to accept Katigbak’s apology.

“It’s a personal decision (for the President to make),” Panelo said, adding that the network should have extended its apology a long time ago but never did until yesterday.

Go also denounced the “black propaganda” that emanated from the network against Duterte. He, however, vowed to work according to the dictates of his conscience, saying he does not want people (ABS-CBN employees) to lose their jobs.

Like Duterte, Senators Francis Pangilinan and Migz Zubiri also claimed that some of their advertisements have not been aired by the network despite advanced payments made.

Meanwhile, Securities and Exchange Commissioner for Market and Securities Regulation Ephyro Luis Amatong made clear that the network has no violations and is not facing any pending investigation by the agency.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue also cleared ABS-CBN of any tax issues, saying there are no tax evasion cases filed against the broadcast giant.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, opined that the National Telecommunications Commission can grant the network a “provisional authority” to operate, pending the approval of its franchise by Congress.

Guevarra made the statement during the Senate’ committee on public services hearing on the matter.

Explaining his decision, Guevarra said the principle of equitable consideration may come into play in deciding whether to temporarily extend the ABS-CBN operations beyond the 31 March 2020 expiration of its franchise.

“When there is a gap in the law,” Guevarra said. “Equity comes in to fill that gap.”

“Equity is the principle by which substantial justice maybe attained in cases where the prescribed or customary form of ordinary law are inadequate,” he added, quoting the Enrile vs Sandiganbayan, citing Reyes vs Lim case in 2003.

This, he said, has been applied to past cases related to the franchises of T’NT, Smart Communications and the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.

with Hananeel Bordey
and Alvin Murcia