Malacañang on Friday defended Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who had drawn criticism for reaffirming his support for President Rodrigo Duterte amid the issue of media network ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said there was nothing wrong with dela Rosa expressing his support for Duterte even if he was now an elected lawmaker.
“Wala namang masama doon na suportahan niya si Presidente (There’s nothing wrong with him supporting the President),” he told reporters.
Dela Rosa, a former national police chief, drew flak online for saying his vote on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal would depend on Duterte’s position.
“As I said, I will live and die with President Duterte. I will sink and swim with him. Of course, sa nakikita ko he is doing it for the good of the majority of the Filipino people,” he said.
The senator, however, denied he was a blind follower.
“I’m not blind. I have my own mind. It just so happened that our minds are synchronized.
Our minds are parallel. Our minds are going on the same direction,” dela Rosa said.
Calls for dela Rosa to resign soon circulated on social media and the hashtag
“#BatoResign” even trended on Twitter on Wednesday night.
Despite dela Rosa’s remarks, Panelo said the senator could also contradict the President because he too has principles.
“Alam mo, ang bawat tao merong personal na sentimyento sa isang kasama niya, kaibigan. Pero tandaan niyo, bawat isa rin may kanya-kanyang prinsipyo (You know, everyone has a personal sentiment on a friend or companion, but everyone has principles too),” he added.
“Siguro kaya niya sinusuportahan kasi parehas sila ng prinsipyo ni Presidente on matters, subject[s] na pinaguusapan. Kung lumihis na sa prinsipyo niya, eh ‘di syempre kokontra na rin siya (Maybe he supports the President because they have the same principles on some matters and subjects. If it’s contrary to his principle, of course he would also express opposition),” he added.
Since 2018, Duterte has personally vowed to put the Lopez-owned network and its subsidiaries out of business for not airing his presidential campaign advertisements in 2016. He even told network executives to sell the company.
The Office of the Solicitor General has asked the Supreme Court to revoke the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN, citing what it described as “highly abusive practices” of the network, which has denied any wrongdoing.