Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he won't allow ABS-CBN to operate even if the network gets a new franchise.

Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate
Duterte said he will ask NTC not to grant ABS-CBN a permit to operate | Photo Courtesy: PCOO

During a televised address on Monday morning, Duterte revealed that he is aware that moves have been made to grant the Kapamilya network a fresh franchise but said he will not allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN a permit to operate.

"Congress is planning to restore the franchise of the Lopezes. Wala akong problema doon kung i-restore ninyo," the President said.

"But if you say that if they can operate, kung may ano na sila, no. I will not allow them. I will not allow the NTC to grant them the permit to operate," he added.

Duterte explained by noting that the Lopezes have committed criminal acts and he will forbid the media giant from resuming operations unless they settle their alleged unpaid taxes.

"Unless in a deal, the Lopezes would pay their taxes, I will not — I will ignore your franchise, and I will not give them the license to operate,” Duterte said.

"Kalokohan 'yan. Parang binigyan mo sila ng prize for committing criminal acts," he added.

Following the rejection of ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, the network has repeatedly denied the accusations that they have an outstanding tax liability. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, also confirmed last year that the network has been compliant with regulations, contrary to allegations against it.

Recently, several lawmakers have filed bills seeking to revive the franchise of ABS-CBN, including Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos, Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

In the same briefing, Duterte also mentioned the alleged condonation or "writing off" of loans by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) from businesses belonging to the Lopezes.

“Iyong --- ito ‘yung pinagbili ng ano, pinagbili ng Lopez iyong Lopez of Companies kasi maraming utang. So binili nila na lahat --- pati ‘yung mga utang, pinagbili ng Lopez doon sa DBP,” Duterte said.

“Ewan ko, ito bangko ito pero na --- napabili nila ang --- ang kanilang utang lahat doon sa DBP. But after a few years, binili ng DBP uli 'yung pinagbili nila sa... Ipinagbili nila sa DBP iyong pinagbili nila. This time, medyo wala na 'yung mga utang-utang. Condone, kung ano-ano ang nilagay nila,” he added.

However, last month, the DBP already denied that they wrote of loans of the Lopez Group of Companies.

DBP president Emmanuel Herbosa said there was nothing irregular in the bank's disposal of the non-performing loans (NPLs) and non-performing assets (NPAs) by the companies belonging then to the Lopez Group.

Duterte admitted he is still unfamiliar with the details on the DBP issue but plans to forward it to the Office of the Ombudsman.

"Mayroon akong kulang dito because I am not quite familiar. Ito lang ang akin eh. Dumating sa akin ito in official capacity. Ang magawa ko lang nito is I think I'll pass it on to the Ombudsman. Para sa akin ang Ombudsman ang pinaka- independent body na mag-solve nito,” the President said.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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