On non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, Palace tells public: Move on
Malacañang urged on Monday the public to "move on" following the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises' decision to junk the ABS-CBN Corp's application for franchise renewal.
While insisting that the Palace had no hand in the decision of 70 lawmakers to shutdown the giant broadcast network, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the least that President Rodrigo Duterte could do is to remain neutral.
"Well, even if we express our regret, the boxing (match) is over and it (franchise application) passed through a process in accordance with the Constitution, we can't do anything. Let's move on," he said in a virtual press briefing.
Various media organizations have said that the decision not to grant ABS-CBN franchise was an attack on the press freedom.
Vice President Leni Robredo has likened the denial of the network's franchise to its closure during the time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Asked if the denial of ABS-CBN franchise a dictator move, Roque said, "With all due respect we disagree, but we do so vehemently. What happened during the time of martial law, there was a franchise but it was ordered closed. But what happened right now, the franchise expired, it was not renewed."
On the issue of press freedom, the spokesman insisted that this right still depended on the franchise, which should be based on the Constitution.
The rejection of ABS-CBN franchise took place after Duterte repeatedly warned before that he would block the company's application for its franchise renewal.
Some 11,000 employees of the company could lose their job.
Despite the repercussions, especially on the workers who could be displaced particularly in this time of coronavirus pandemic, Roque reiterated that Duterte respects the decision of the House.
"The most the President can do is to remain neutral," he said.
He also maintained that the lawmakers who voted against the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise exercised the will of the people despite a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations showing that most of the Filipinos favor the broadcast network's continuous operations.
For ABS-CBN employees who could be displaced, Roque said they could avail of the government's programs, such as those being implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment.
He said the workers could also loan from the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines for the education of their children or borrow from the Department of Trade and Industry or Department of Agriculture if they want to start a business. Celerina Monte/DMS