Duterte says ABS-CBN franchise renewal bid ‘piece of garbage’

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with National Security Adviser and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Vice Chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. during the Joint National Task Force (NTF)-Regional Task Force (RTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) Region 10 meeting at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan De Oro City on March 5, 2021. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 6 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said it is useless to give local media giant ABS-CBN Corp. a new 25-year legislative franchise.

During the joint meeting of national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Duterte said he sees no reason for ABS-CBN to secure a fresh congressional franchise.

“ABS-CBN nakalingaw sa tao, walay problema na. Nakalipay sa mga bata, way problema na (ABS-CBN has entertained people and made children happy and I have no problem with that),” Duterte said. ““Karon, wala sila’y kontrata. Oh renegotiate. Ayaw ko’g tagai la’g basura ang p***** i**. Ana na sila eh (Now they don’t have a contract so they’re renegotiating. But don’t give me a piece of garbage, son of a b****. That’s how they are).”

Duterte maintained that he was opposed to the possible resumption of ABS-CBN’s operations, saying he could not stomach the network’s previous selling of assets to state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines at a “higher price.”

“Human gibaligya nila sa DBP ang ilang tanang assets. Tanan, lock, stock, and barrel. Pagkahuman ang negosyo niguwapo na, ilang gipalit og barato, gibaligya nila’g mahal. Sabi ko, ‘Ah, t*** i**.’ Unsay ABS-CBN diha? Sirhan tamo (After which, they sold all their assets to the DBP. All of it – lock, stock, and barrel. They resumed business and when their business was doing well, they bought back their assets at a cheap price and sold it for a higher price. I said, ‘Ah, son of a b****.’ ABS-CBN? I’ll shut you down),” he said.

Duterte was referring to the supposed loans of ABS-CBN to DBP condoned in early 2002.

The DBP already clarified on Jan. 19 that it did not condone or write off PHP1.6 billion in loans to companies controlled or affiliated with the Lopez family that turned sour as a result of the lingering 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The loans granted to the Lopez companies were part of the PHP9.55 billion in non-performing loans (NPLs) and non-performing assets (NPAs) that DBP sold in an auction to two special purpose vehicles or financial firms that assume bad loans of banks.

Duterte on Feb. 8 said he would not allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN permit unless the embattled media firm settles its tax deficiencies.

Three days after Duterte’s remarks, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said ABS-CBN would have to wait for the next Congress to have its franchise renewed, saying the lawmakers are busy prioritizing administration measures.

ABS-CBN ceased its broadcast operations on May 5, 2020 following the NTC’s issuance of a cease-and-desist order.

On July 10, 2020, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises rejected ABS-CBN’s bid for a new 25-year franchise due to several issues, including the dual citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio Lopez III, the possible violation of the constitutional limits on foreign ownership, reported labor and tax violations, and other violations of the terms of its franchise.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on January 4 filed granting ABS-CBN a legislative franchise for 25 years.

Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto filed a similar bill at the House of Representatives on January 5.  (MNS)

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