Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained the side of the government to journalist Karen Davila on the issue of the ABS-CBN franchise.
In an interview with ANC Headstart, Panelo insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte is not controlling or pressuring the other branches of the government to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, which initially set to expire by the end of March 2020.
According to Panelo, Duterte is only expressing his frustrations against ABS-CBN when they didn’t air the commercial he paid last presidential election, but it doesn’t mean that he’s already controlling the Congress to block it.
He also said that only the Congress could decide if they’re going to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN and not the President.
“The President made utterances against ABS-CBN, he made certain statement like ‘I’ll shut it down’ pero hindi naman literal ‘yun eh, he wants to shut down the fraudulent practices of your network,” Panelo told Davila.
“Yun ang kinagagalit ni Presidente, yung mga ganoong klaseng practices kaya siya nagalit, you cannot deprived this man to express his displeasure or disgust or anger when he was a victim of fraud, pero walang kinalaman ‘yun sa pag renew because that is the job of the Congress,” he added.
The Presidential Spokesperson also said that even if Duterte tries to veto the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, Congress has still the power to override the decision of the President.
“Ano naman kung i-veto? They can override the veto of the President,” the President said.
When Davila asked if the Congress is violating any law because they’re not doing their job in tackling the ABS-CBN franchise, Panelo said that only the courts could decide that.
On the quo warranto filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, Panelo explained that the said petition is not ordered by the President.
Panelo claimed that Calida is moving independently and he sees nothing wrong with filing the quo warranto because it will not affect the franchise of ABS-CBN.
“Ano naman kung granted (yung quo warranto) edi ganon parin, may pending application ka naman, kasi kung mayroon kang violation ay doon ka lang mananagot sa batas sa violation mo pero after that pwede ka namang mag apply, still the Congress would decide,” Panelo explained.
Panelo also complained about how ABS-CBN seems trying to blame Duterte to their franchise issue and also aligning their issues with press freedom.
However, Davila argued that the franchise of ABS-CBN “could lead” to a press freedom issue.
“Ang nakakayamot Karen, pinapasok nila yung freedom of the press, walang connection eh, ipagpalagay na nating nawala ang ABS CBN, are you telling me na nawala na yung freedom of expression and of the press? Of course not, ang dami daming networks, ang daming radyo nandyan parin, and ABS-CBN can always, alam mo na madali lang naman gawan ng paraan yan, ibenta mo lang tapos ikaw rin pala ang may hawak, ewan ko ba parang natatawa na ko,” he said.
When Davila tried to insist that the issue of ABS-CBN is also about freedom of the press, Panelo asked the journalist how she would prove that.
However, Davila refused to answer to Panelo’s question.
“I’m not gonna tell you, I’m going to ask you that’s my job on the show to ask you,” she told Panelo.
She then asked Panelo why President Duterte didn’t stop the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN if he doesn’t really want to interfere with the Congress.
As a response, Panelo said that it’s the job of the OSG to file a case against alleged violators of the constitution.
Davila then brought up the press freedom issue again and asked Panelo if an editorial judgment is a violation of the franchise renewal.
To answer the question of Davila, Panelo said that editorial judgment is not a violation of the franchise renewal so the ABS-CBN issue cannot be linked to press freedom.
“Bakit, hindi naman iyon yung ground for quo warranto ah, so edi walang koneksyon, the very connection of the quo warranto does not even touch your right to criticize, your right to write editorials so anong koneksyon non sa freedom of express or of the press? Edi wala,” Panelo said.
Davila mentioned a statement from some experts, saying that the franchise issue could lead to the editorial independence of any given networks.
However, Panelo argued that only Congress could decide about the franchise issue of ABS-CBN and not the President.
“Eh sino nga ang nag bibigay ng franchise o nag re-renew edi Congress, bakit mo sinisisi ang Presidente, wala ngang kinalaman ang Presidente doon, tanungin mo kung bakit galit si Presidente, sasagutin kita,” Panelo told Davila.
Panelo also has a message to the management of ABS-CBN.
“Ang problema kasi sa inyo, hindi yung mga bagong executives ngayon, kakaawa nga dahil ang gagaling, mga bata, matitino, now they’re suffering because of what their father’s did, or yung mga uncle nila… Alam na nila na mali yung ginawa nila, and yet did they do anything to appease the person naging biktima ng kanilang injustice and fraud? Wala,” Panelo said.
He then praised ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak for admitting the faults of his own company.