Did President Rodrigo Duterte have a hand on the cancellation of ABS-CBN’s franchise last year?
Speaking on her Sunday radio show with broadcaster Ely Saludar, Vice President Leni Robredo laughed off the question but raised concerns that Duterte’s remarks have been confusing.
“Parang pinanindigan nila for a very long time na walang kinalaman si Presidente sa pag-cancel ng prangkisa kasi Congress lang iyon tapos ngayon, baliktad iyong sinasabi (They stood by what they said for a very long time that the President had nothing to do with the cancellation of the franchise because it’s just Congress (that did it) but now, it’s the other way around),” she said.
“Mahirap, Ka Ely, kasi kino-confirm ang pagduda ng marami dati. Iba sinasabi ng spokesperson sa principal (It’s difficult, Ka Ely, because it is confirming what many have doubted in the past. The spokesperson and principal are saying different things),” Robredo added.
Earlier, the President said that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress awards it a fresh franchise unless the company pays its taxes. The network lost its franchise last year after what has been perceived as many as a politically motivated attack by the administration. Duterte has also repeatedly warned ABS-CBN in the past about not granting it another franchise.
Robredo said in Filipino that this is “confusing” because Presidential spokesman Harry Roque already said Malacañang follows a “hands-off” policy on Congress’ decision whether or not to grant the country’s biggest media network a franchise.
She also questioned the contradicting statements made by Duterte, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Although Duterte insists that ABS-CBN has not properly paid its taxes, the BIR and DBP refute these allegations.
BIR said the network has paid all of its taxes while the DBP said that all transactions of the network with the institution have been “aboveboard.”
“So, hindi mo maintindihan kasi ang DBP naman saka ang BIR ay pareho din naman government offices. Para iyong sinasabi nila salungat din sa sinasabi ng pangulo so mahirap intindihin. Nakakalito (So, you cannot understand because the DBP and the BIR are both government offices. What they’re saying also contradicts the president’s statement, so it’s hard to understand. It’s confusing),” Robredo said.