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Duterte to firms: No franchise until you pay for your ‘misdeeds’

MJ Blancaflor



President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night warned he would not recognize any franchise granted to a company until it had settled its obligations and paid for its supposed “misdeeds” to the government.

Duterte did not identify which company he was referring to, at least on his pre-recorded address that was broadcasted by Malacañang, but he said he would not let the firm see the light of day unless it comes to the government with “clean hands.”

“There will be no opening. I assure you. All franchises will not be implemented. I will not implement them until they settle their full accounts with the government,” Duterte said in a mix of vernacular and English.

“For all I care, you can have a thousand franchises. You will not see the light of day until you come to the government with clean hands,” he added.

In his public address, Duterte said he would have a “serious” talk with the company’s officials if their firm would operate through a new franchise again.

“Just because you give them a franchise, it does not follow that all of their misdeeds in the past are condoned or forgiven,” he said.

The President, in the speech aired over state-run network PTV-4, did not mention broadcast giant ABS-CBN, but his remarks came hours after the House of Representatives held a hearing on the broadcast giant and the Lopez Group of Companies amid fresh bills seeking to grant a new franchise for the network.

The Monday hearing discussed whether the Lopez family “unjustly” benefited when the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines condoned P1.6 billion worth of loans in 2006.

DBP president Emmanuel Herbosa said there was nothing irregular in the bank’s disposal of the non-performing loans and non-performing assets by the companies which belong to the Lopez Group then.

ABS-CBN’s flagship channel 2 went off air on 5 May, following a cease-and-desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission due to expiration of its congressional franchise.

Two months later, a House panel dominated by Duterte’s allies rejected ABS-CBN’s application for a new broadcast franchise, an outcome the President had promised would happen because of the network’s failure to air his 2016 campaign advertisement and its supposed biased reporting against his anti-drug campaign.

The President denied having a hand on the matter despite his repeated threats to shut down the broadcast giant which drew his ire.

ABS-CBN’s shutdown was seen by many as an assault on the public’s right to information and press freedom since the network provides news, aside from entertainment shows.