Palace tells Congress to vote ‘as conscience dictates’ on ABS-CBN franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Members of Congress should vote as their “conscience dictates” since President Rodrigo Duterte remains neutral on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, Malacañang said Wednesday.
“Wag po kayo mag-alala mga congressmen, hindi po magagalit, hindi matutuwa ang Presidente kung kayo po’y ipasa ang ABS-CBN. Completely neutral po ang Presidente dyan. Vote as your conscience dictates,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over state-run PTV4.
“Hinding hindi po manghihimasok ang Presidente sa inyong desisyon. Pero ngayong bukas ang Kongreso, talaga pong Kongreso ang dapat magbigay ng prangkisa sa ABS-CBN,” he added.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday ordered the network to stop its broadcast operations after its legislative franchise lapsed on May 4.
ABS-CBN went off the air to comply with NTC’s order.
Earlier, Roque said the network is free to exhaust all legal remedies available to address NTC’s order.
Duterte had repeatedly vowed to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, citing the network’s failure to air his ads during his campaign for the presidency in 2016.
ABS-CBN, during a Senate hearing in February 2020, apologized to the President and explained that the time limits under the election law prohibited the airing of some of his ads.
The network also offered to return the President’s money, but Duterte said they should just donate it to a charitable institution.
The President accepted the media giant’s apology and said he will leave the media network giant’s impending franchise renewal to Congress.
ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on Monday with its application for renewal still pending on the House legislative franchises committee.
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