Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.


Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology


MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he accepts the apology of TV network ABS-CBN but that he will not interfere in its case on franchise renewal.

“I accept the apology, of course,” Duterte said in an ambush interview on Wednesday (February 26).

Duterte clarified that he would leave the fate of the network giant’s franchise to Congress. “I tell you, I am not going to interfere,” Duterte said.

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak had apologized during a Senate hearing on issues surrounding the network’s franchise renewal.

“We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network. We felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak said.

ABS-CBN had aired a negative political advertisement paid for by anti-Duterte critic Antonio Trillanes, but did not air Duterte’s election campaign ad despite receiving payment of Dh2.6 million.

The anti-Dutete ad featured clips of the leader using foul language and making offensive gestures. It also featured children questioning whether Duterte did the right thing.

On Wednesday, Duterte said that if ABS-CBN wants to return the money for the unaired ad, it should be donated to charity.

It was not clear whether the president would sign a bill that would grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license in case its network franchise renewal hits a hurdle in Congress. The network’s license expires on May 4.

“I will cross the bridge when I get there. Maybe I will call the media to help me out. It would be a difficult decision, really. So I will… I will cross the bridge when I get there,” Duterte said.

ABS-CBN is facing a quo warranto petition by Solicitor General Jose Calida to invalidate its existing franchise. Calida earlier this month asked the Supreme Court to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise due to alleged abuses such as pay-per-view operation, foreign ownership and propaganda.

The network has said Calida’s allegations were “without merit”, adding that it “complies with all the pertinent laws governing its franchise. DAJ/Expat Media

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