Senator Leila De Lima expressed her support to ABS-CBN amid the possible closure of the television network because of its franchise expiration.
In a press release on January 3, De Lima said that the fate of the franchise of ABS-CBN should not be based on President Duterte’s “whims”.
“The law is clear on this matter. Whatever perceived slight he experienced from ABS-CBN is a matter for the courts to pass upon, not Congress. The grant of a legislative franchise is a prerogative of Congress based on the standard of the common good, not on the personal whims of a madman,” said De Lima.
De Lima suspected that the criticisms being received by ABS-CBN from the President, and also the water issues being faced by Ayala Corporation and Manny Pangilinan Group is part of a “bigger” plan of the Duterte administration to control them.
“These empty accusations bereft of neither evidence nor any legal basis whatsoever has become a trademark of his administration,” De Lima said.
She then accused the President of criticizing big companies because he wanted to put his “cronies” in power.
De Lima urged the government agencies to fight for democracy and misuse of power.
“Tinatawagan ko ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na panindigan ang mga prinsipyo ng ating demokrasya at labanan ang anumang maling paggamit sa ating mga batas bunga ng kapritso at masamang pulitika.”
At the end of her statement, De Lima told ABS-CBN that they should “stand firm” to the actions of President Duterte against them.
She also said that the television network should also “remain confident of their crucial role in democracy”.
“The congressional action on their franchise renewal will be the litmus test of our Senators’ and Congressmen’s commitment to free press and democracy,” De Lima said.
Several days ago, President Duterte told the owners of ABS-CBN to sell their network to other businessmen.
“Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo. Mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung may mangyari diyan. Kung ako sa inyo, ipagbili niyo na ‘yan,” Duterte said.
“Kasi ang mga Pilipino ngayon lang makaganti sa inyong kalokohan. I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times forever,” he added.