By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said President Duterte will not urge Congress to expedite the process of renewing or rejecting the franchise of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN, saying the Chief Executive will never favor one organization.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after it was suggested in a radio interview that President Duterte can certify the bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise as urgent if he was not really against it.
During the interview Wednesday, Panelo said everyone is treated equally under the Duterte administration.
“Bakit naman kailangan magbigay ng urgency ng pag-ano, eh ‘di ibig sabihin nagdi-discriminate siya sa isang organisasyon lamang (Why would he need to certify it urgent? That would mean he is favoring just one organization),” he said.
“Hindi pupuwede kay Presidente, kailangan lahat ay equal ang tratamiyento ng bawat sangay ng gobyerno (The President will not allow that. Everybody should be treated equally),” he added.
Panelo likewise reminded ABS-CBN and its supporters to address their pleas to Congress and not the President because the fate of their franchise lies with the Legislative Branch.
“They are barking at the wrong tree. Ang Kongreso ang kulitin nila, hindi si Presidente (They should pester Congress, not the President),” he said.
The Palace official then reiterated that President Duterte is not pressuring Congress not to act on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
“Never na tumawag sa amin si Presidente tungkol sa anumang bagay dito sa Kongreso. At hindi rin sila makatawag kay Presidente kasi alam nila na hindi naman sila i-entertain-in (The President never called Congress for anything and no lawmaker can call the President because they know he won’t entertain them),” Panelo said.
He added that even if there was a remote possibility that Duterte will veto the bill, Congress can still override the decision of the President.
“Kahit na i-veto pa iyan, ma o-overrule naman iyan, override iyan ng two-thirds votes ng Kongreso, tapos na. Kaya talaga iyong kapangyarihan ay nasa Kongreso (Even if the President vetoes it, Congress can always override him with two-thirds of their vote. So the power really is with Congress),” he said.
Pass a law
Meanwhile, Panelo urged Congress to pass immediately a bill that explicitly allows a broadcast company to operate despite an expired franchise as long as there is a pending bill seeking to renew their operations.
“Bakit hindi na lang kayo gumawa ng batas niyo na i-extend habang pending pa? Lahat ng franchises na may pending sa kanila (Why don’t you just pass a law that extends a franchise as long as there is a pending bill that covers all pending franchise renewals),” he told Palace reporters in an interview Wednesday afternoon,
“They can pass a law that says pending the application, the expiration, then there’s an extension for this period of time,” he added.
The Palace official said President Duterte will not block the passage of such bill, reminding them that they can always override his veto power by two-thirds of their votes.