By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
A Malacañang official said President Duterte will unlikely to veto the bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise if and when the Congress approves it as long as there will be no constitutional infirmity.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as ABS-CBN remains off-air after being ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to stop their broadcast operations due to the expiration of their franchise.
In his Thursday press briefing, Roque said now that President Duterte has expressed his view on the matter, it is unlikely that he will veto the bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“Unless there is any constitutional infirmity, I don’t think the President is inclined to veto it,” he said.
“Sinabi na nga po ng Presidente, ‘Neutral ako diyan. Gawin niyo na ang katungkulan niyo, bumoto nang ayon sa inyong konsensiya.’ (The President already said that he is neutral on the issue and the Congress should do its duty and vote according to their conscience),” he added.
Roque said that President Duterte cannot do anything for ABS-CBN anymore aside from encouraging his allies to perform their duty.
“Independyente at co-equal branch ang Kongreso. Ayaw naman niyang diktahan (He can’t dictate on Congress because it is an independent and co-equal branch). It’s enough that he has now cleared the air. He is now neutral as far as the franchise of ABS-CBN is concerned,” he said.
The Palace official and former lawmaker meanwhile believe that members of Congress will not ignore public sentiment as expressions of support for ABS-CBN poured in social media.
“Having been, myself, a part of the House of Representatives, ang masasabi ko lang po hindi naman po bulag, hindi naman bingi ang inyong mga representante sa hinaing ng taumbayan (What I can say is your representatives are not blind and deaf to the sentiment of their constituents),” Roque said.
President Duterte has repeatedly vowed to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise due to supposed unaired political ads during the presidential elections in 2016. His stance changed almost three months ago after he accepted the apology of ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak for the network’s shortcomings.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against the broadcast giant due to violations of its franchise.
Read more: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations