Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Monday reiterated that the House of Representatives’ decision to deny network giant ABS-CBN Corporation’s request for franchise renewal is not a “dictator move.”
In a statement, Roque stressed that Malacanang is disagreeing with Vice President Leni Robredo’s comparison that the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is the same as the closure of the network at the hands of a dictator during martial law in the 70s.
“With all due respect, we disagree but we do so vehemently. We know during the years of martial law they have a franchise but they were closed. But what happened today, their franchise expired and it was not renewed,” said Roque.
“I know they have been saying that the issue here is the right of free press but if the press is dependent on a franchise, there is a need to follow the provisions of the Constitution that there should be a franchise coming from the Lower House. We beg to differ with due respect to the Vice President,” he added.
The Palace official also reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte remained neutral on the issue and has nothing to do with Congress decision to reject the franchise renewal of the country’s largest broadcasting company and that the President also respects the separation of powers among two equal branches of government.
He insisted that the Chief Executive used to have ill-feelings towards ABS-CBN, raising the issue of the paid but unaired political ad in 2016, but has since forgiven them.
“The President have since stated that he is neutral on the issue of ABS-CBN. He used to have ill-feelings towards them but he has already forgiven them,” said Roque.
Roque, however, admitted that with ABS-CBN’s shut down, they have to work double time to disseminate information to the people considering the wide-reach of the network especially in the countryside.
“I will admit, it has an effect on our reach, Here in the Office of the Press Secretary, we will intensify our interviews because we lost the biggest reach in our dissemination. But that’s how it is, we need to accept the decision of the franchise committee because that is stated in the Constitution,” said Roque.