Palace says denying ABS-CBN franchise application congressional prerogative
Malacañang maintained on Friday that the decision of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises rejecting the franchise renewal of broadcast network ABS-CBN is a congressional prerogative.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the Palace has a "neutral stance" on the franchise issue of the giant television network.
"The decision of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation is a sole prerogative of Congress that we in the Executive recognize," he said.
He said the Palace respects the separation of powers between the two co-equal branches of government.
"Much as we want to work with the aforesaid media network, we have to abide by the resolution of the House committee," Roque stressed.
In a separate statement, President Rodrigo Duterte's chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said they respect the decision of the House committee.
"Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that a franchise is a mere privilege granted by the State through its legislative body," he said.
Panelo was quick in saying that the Palace interfered in the processes at the House of Representatives.
"In view thereof, the Executive Branch can not - and has not meddled - and will never interfere - with the affairs of a co-equal, separate and independent branch of government," the official said.
He said ABS-CBN, as well as those against its franchise application, were given the opportunity to be heard their side as what is required in the constitutional provision of due process.
Panelo said that what took place in the House was based on "democratic process" and the Executive must respect its outcome.
He also said that the proceeding in the House committee was "transparent," with the public being apprised of its developments.
In a vote of 70 to 11, the House committee junked the franchise application of ABS-CBN.
Since Duterte assumed office in 2016, he threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. The company's 25-year franchise expired last May.
Duterte even advised the Lopez family, which controls the network, to sell it.
Duterte became irked with ABS-CBN when it aired the campaign ads during the 2016 presidential elections of former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, his staunch critic.
He claimed that his own campaign advertisements were not broadcast and yet ABS-CBN did not refund him.
ABS-CBN management apologized if they hurt Duterte but said there were also other candidates whose ads were not aired due to lack of air time.
It also admitted that there was a delay in reimbursing Duterte but when the company was returning his money, the latter advised ABS-CBN to donate it to charity.
ABS-CBN said that it has 11,000 employees who might lose their jobs. Celerina Monte/DMS