By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte has accepted the apology of ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak for the shortcomings of the network during the 2016 presidential elections as he denied his involvement in the filing of a quo warranto petition against the company.
Duterte made the statement two days after Katigbak, in a Senate hearing, apologized to Duterte if ABS-CBN offended him when it did not air his paid campaign ads in 2016, saying it was not their intention to offend any candidate.
In an interview in Malacañang, Duterte said he accepts the apology of ABS-CBN’s top honcho because he is “only human.”
“Tao lang rin ako (I’m only human too) so… I accept the apology, of course,” he said Wednesday evening.
The President likewise rejected Katigbak’s offer to return the P2.6 million that was spent by the then-Davao City mayor’s camp for the ads.
“‘Wag na. Ibigay na lang nila sa (They don’t have to return it. They should just give it to) any charitable institution of their choice,” Duterte said.
President Duterte has threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal for their supposed bias against him, especially during the presidential elections. He also accused the network of not returning his payment for his unaired campaign ads.
The President denied that he instructed Solicitor General Jose Calida to file a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, saying he cannot order the government’s lawyer because he does not report to him.
“The SolGen can only announce that there is a violation of [the] law and that he is going to investigate it. Wala na akong… Hindi ko masabihan (I cannot tell him), ‘Do not do it. Stop it,'” Duterte said.
“The SolGen does not clear with me unlike the Secretary of Justice. He will call my attention or he will bring it up in the Cabinet. Ang SolGen hindi (The SolGen does not do that).”
However, President Duterte was still undecided if he will sign the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN should Congress grant it.
“I will cross the bridge when I get there. Maybe I will call the media to help me out,” he said. “It would be a difficult decision, really. So I will… I will cross the bridge when I get there.”
Duterte likewise denied that he was pressuring Congress to act unfavorably on ABS-CBN’s appeal to have their franchise renewed. Their franchise will expire in May this year.
“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,” he said.
“Magtanong kayo (You can ask around). There are about 200 of them and you can ask anybody. And if there is a congressman that would say… If it is true, I will resign. I never, never, never really called anybody about this, even before.”
The President, however, agreed that the decision on ABS-CBN’s franchise lies with the House of Representatives and not so much with the Senate. He likewise vowed to not interfere with the process.
“Fundamentally, really, ang (the) decision nasa (is with the) House ngayon (now), not so much of the Senate because the Constitution says all of these things must originate from the Lower House,” Duterte said. “The critical move is in the House and I tell you I am not going to interfere.”