Duterte blocked renewal of ABS-CBN franchise – Leni

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    IT is now clear that President Duterte is behind the move to deny ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. a legislative franchise, Vice President Leni Robredo said yesterday as she noted the Chief Executive announcement last week that he would not allow the media giant to resume operations even if Congress eventually decides to renew the franchise.

    Robredo, who is expected to run in the 2022 national elections as the opposition’s standard-bearer, also said it is “confusing” because Duterte’s statement is exactly the opposite of what his spokesman Harry Roque has long been insisting on — that the President is neutral on the issue.

    President Duterte last week said he would not allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a permit to operate to ABS-CBN if Congress eventually renews the TV giant’s congressional franchise.

    Some lawmakers have filed bills seeking to revive the network’s franchise which congressmen voted down in the committee level last year while the country was battling the surging number of COVID-19 cases.

    The authors of the measures include deputy speaker Vilma Santos of Batangas, Rep. Gabriel Bordado of Camarines Sur and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

    While the Bureau of Internal Revenue has told the House that ABS-CBN has been paying its taxes, Duterte has been insisting that the Lopez family must settle their alleged tax liability.

    The President also harped on the allegation that the government lost at least P1.6 billion after the Development Bank of the Philippines supposedly condoned the loans of the Lopez Group during the early 2000s.

    Last Thursday, Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco said all bills seeking to renew the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN will remain dead under his leadership because it will have to wait until the next Congress.

    With a little over a year until the 2022 elections, Velasco said the House “is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this administration.”