PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the apology of television network ABS-CBN for airing a smear advertisement against him during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte said he was accepting the apology of ABS-CBN, but would leave its franchise issue to Congress.
“Yes…I accept the apology… Tao lang rin ako so.. Alam mo, I have kept a healthy distance from… It’s now in… They are deliberating in Congress. The Lower House and the Senate. There’s a plan that they would pass a joint resolution, something,” Duterte said during a media interview.
“But fundamentally, really, ang (the) decision nasa (is in the) House ngayon (now), not so much of the Senate because the Constitution says all of these things must originate from the Lower House. ‘Yan ang ano (That’s how it is). Forget about all these hullabaloo. The critical move is in the House and I tell you I am not going to interfere. Wala talaga ako (I won’t),” he added.
Duterte also said that ABS-CBN should just donate the remaining P2.6 million the network owed his camp for its failure to air his political advertisements.
During the Senate inquiry on the network’s franchise renewal, ABS-CBN President and Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak said it was not their intention to offend the President.
“We felt that we were just abiding by regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak also said.
Meanwhile, the President refused to say whether he would approve or reject the renewal of the TV network’s franchise.
Franchise bills approved by Congress have to be signed into law by the President.
“I will cross the bridge when I get there. Maybe I will call the media to help me out. It would be a difficult decision, really. So I will… I will cross the bridge when I get there,” Duterte said.
The President was also keeping a hands-off approach to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s bid to void ABS-CBN’s franchise through a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court.
“Ang problema kasi nitong sa (The problem with the) SolGen, once he makes an official statement that there is a violation of law, then stoop na ako (I will bow to it). Parang, hindi na ako makagalaw (It’s like my hands are tied). I cannot tell him ‘Stop,'” Duterte said.
“The SolGen can only announce that there is a violation of law and that he is going to investigate it. Wala na akong… Hindi ko masabihan (I am no longer . . . I cannot tell him), ‘Do not do it. Stop it.’ ‘Yan ang problema sa (That is the problem with the) SolGen,” he added.
ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal was highlighted earlier this month following the quo warranto petition of Calida.
Calida had cited “highly abusive” practices by the network—including foreign ownership and operational issues— allegations that the television network itself had debunked.
Some lawmakers had allayed concerns over ABS-CBN’s looming shutdown, saying the media company could still broadcast news and content as there were pending renewal measures in Congress.
A total of 11 measures remain pending before the lower chamber, which just started its proceedings on the case on Monday.