ABS-CBN apologizes to Duterte, denies 'own political agenda'

MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak apologized on behalf of the network to President Rodrigo Duterte.

ABS-CBN's chief says sorry if they offended President Rodrigo Duterte
ABS-CBN's chief says sorry if they offended President Rodrigo Duterte for not airing some ads in 2016 elections | Photo Credit: Chiara Zambrano

During the Senate hearing of the franchise renewal of media giant ABS-CBN on Monday, February 24, the network's chief expressed their apologies to the President but clarified they do not have any political agenda.

Katigbak said, "We are sorry if we offended the President. I know our chairman Mark Lopez shares this, ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda."

This came after Senator Christopher "Bong" Go during his opening statement shared the sentiment of Duterte in the light of the network's appeal for a franchise renewal. Go said the President didn't appreciate the alleged bias and distortion of facts that aimed to mislead the public.

Go added the network failed to air several political paid regional ads and yet aired negative poll ads. Go said such acts should be met with a "high degree of responsibility" if the network applies for a broadcast franchise.

The senator said ABS-CBN tried to return the P2.4M paid by Duterte camp but they refused to accept.

Go said, "Nasaktan ang presidente, nababoy ang presidente... Hindi vindictive ang pangulo but someone clearly went overboard with the airing of this black propaganda."

Katigbak tried to explain that Duterte's national ads worth P117M were aired. Out of the P65M worth of local ads, almost P7 million worth of ads were not aired due to lack of enough time slot. They refunded P4 million but the P2 million was not accepted.

Regarding the airing of ads critical of Duterte, including the one paid for former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV which featured children questioning Duterte's controversial remarks, Katigbak said they were no laws violated. No laws prohibited the airing of negative ads. He said there was one ad paid for by Trillanes they rejected but the one with the children fell within ethical standards.

Katigbak hopes the network's values will help them through. He said, "We are hopeful that our integrity and values as an organization will shine through."

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified on Monday that the franchise of ABS-CBN will lapse on May 4, 2020 — not March 30 as commonly reported.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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