Palace respects House decision to deny ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Published July 10, 2020, 4:45 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said it has no choice but to follow the decision of the House of Representatives to junk the bid of ABS-CBN to renew its franchise even though it wants to continue working with the broadcast giant.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (RESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after 70 members of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises handed to ABS-CBN its death sentence on Friday afternoon.

In his statement, Roque said the Palace respects the decision of Congress to reject ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application but added that it cannot do anything about it.

“The decision of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation is a sole prerogative of Congress that we in the Executive recognize,” he said.

“Much as we want to work with the aforesaid media network, we have to abide by the resolution of the House committee,” he added.

According to Roque, Malacañang has maintained a neutral stance on the issue due to the separation of powers between co-equal branches of government.

In a statement, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the Palace never intrudes in the business of its co-equal branches.

“We respect [the] decision of Congress. The Executive doesn’t intrude on the affairs of an equal branch,” he said.

“Both sides of the issues have been heard. We leave it to the collective wisdom of the committee apropos its denial of the renewal of [the] franchise,” he added.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued last May 5 a cease-and-desist order that brought about the network’s shutdown following the expiry of its 25-year franchise.

President Duterte had distanced himself from ABS-CBN’s fate, saying it was up to Congress how they would act on it.

Previously, however, Duterte had repeatedly threatened to block the renewal of the network’s franchise for its failure to air his political ads in 2016 despite paying for them.

ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak had apologized for the company’s shortcomings. The President accepted his apology but hinted that it was not an assurance that he will sign their franchise, saying it would be a difficult decision for him.

The Palace repeatedly said ABS-CBN’s closure was not a violation of freedom of the press because there were still other networks that could deliver the news to the public.

Read more: House junks ABS-CBN franchise bid