Duterte calls ABS-CBN a ‘thief’ and promises to block renewal of its license

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Malacañang Palace.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Malacañang Palace.

Different time and place, same threat.

President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday threatened anew ABS-CBN Corporation, saying that he would block the renewal of their license which will expire in 2020. Duterte also accused the broadcasting company of fraud for failing to air his campaign ad in 2016, despite accepting payment for it.

Duterte has carried a grudge against ABS-CBN for quite a while. In March 2017, Rappler reported that Duterte said karma will catch up with ABS-CBN and the newspaper The Philippine Daily Inquirer for writing what he called “slanted” stories which painted him in an unflattering light.

Back then, the Inquirer was owned by the Prieto family. But eight months after Duterte made that speech, Ramon Ang, a businessman supportive of him, bought the newspaper.

The president’s hate for ABS-CBN resurfaced again yesterday during the ceremonial distribution of the certificates of land ownership in Malay, Aklan, reported CNN Philippines.

He accused ABS-CBN of broadcasting during the campaign his critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s TV ad which he said called him a killer. The 30-second ad was noted for using child actors.

He also had a few choice words for Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, ABS-CBN’s chairman emeritus.

CNN Philippines quoted him saying in English and Filipino: “You know what those fuckers are doing, you Gabby [Lopez]. You broadcast Trillanes’ advertisement. Children slammed me, [they said] ‘Duterte is a killer.’ According to the law, there was an injunction saying that’s not allowed, having child actors. And yet you went ahead with the show and made it public.”

He also accused them of acting like thieves.

ABS-CBN News quoted him saying: “I will not let it (license renewal) pass. Your franchise will end. But let me ask you questions first. Because I will object to your renewal. You know why? Because you are thieves.”

Duterte claimed that his political ads in 2016 were not aired by ABS-CBN despite his camp having paid for it. ABS-CBN allegedly wanted to return the money to him but it was too late. 

He also said Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero had the same experience with ABS-CBN. He said the network had committed fraud.

“They offered to pay and I refused to accept it because it was returned to me… proposed to return the money [but it] was too late after the election,” the Inquirer quoted him saying.

“When you do that to many people, it’s fraud. You’re actually a fraud when you actually received money and you don’t come up with your part of the bargain,” Duterte said.

ABS-CBN has not released a statement reacting to the president’s latest diatribe.

Back in April 2017 during the annual shareholders’ meeting, Lopez dismissed the president’s attacks.

He said: “Let me just say, we have not yet encountered an administration that at one point or another had not had some issue with the media in general, and ABS-CBN in particular.”

ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal remains pending in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately for the company even if Congress approves it, Duterte has the power to veto it.

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