Palace: Duterte’s victory claim vs oligarchs just a coincidence as ABS-CBN lost franchise bid
MANILA, Philippines — It is nothing but a coincidence that President Rodrigo Duterte claims victory over the country’s oligarchs just days after Congress denied ABS-CBN’s franchise application, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a speech before troops in Jolo, Duterte said he can now die happy knowing that he has “dismantled” oligarchy in the country which he said has milked Filipinos and even manipulated the economy and elections for years now.
Duterte made the statement after the House of Representatives panel on legislative franchises rejected the franchise application of television giant ABS-CBN Corp., which the President repeatedly threatened in his speeches over its alleged biased reporting against his administration and for not airing his 2016 presidential election campaign advertisement.
But Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said that the President was referring to oligarchs he has named in the past and “personally dealt with” such as Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan, and the Ayala group.
“He’s referring po to oligarchies that he has dealt with personally,” Roque said. “Nandiyan po ‘yung unang away niya with Lucio Tan pero nagbayad po ng pagkakautang sa airport si Lucio Tan. At nandiyan po ‘yung mga water concessionaires at dahil talaga naman sinabihan niya, baguhin niyo ang kontrata, hindi dapat maging agrabayado ang taumbayan kung hindi ay ipakukulong ko kayo. At pumayag naman po na magkaroon ng amended concession agreement ang dalawang taipans na MVP group at Ayala group.”
(He’s referring to the oligarchies that he has dealt with personally. There was his first fight with Lucio Tan who ended up Lucio paying his debt to airport authorities. And the water concessionaires which the President asked to amend the agreement and that the people should not be aggrieved or else he will imprison them. And the two taipans, the MVP group, and Ayala group agreed to have an amended concession agreement.)
Asked if he believes that it is only a coincidence that the President issued the pronouncements just days after the denial of the franchise of the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, Roque said: “I believe so.”
“Kasi palagi namang sinasabi niya sa kanyang mga talumpati na ‘yang mga oligarchs na talagang siya mismo ang bumuwag. Ito naman pong kaso ng ABS-CBN ay kaso ng nagexpire na prangkisa at hindi po narenew ng Kongreso,” he added.
(Because he always mentioned in his speeches those oligarchs that he really toppled. The case of ABS-CBN is a case of an expired franchise and which was not renewed by Congress.)
Curiously, Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 presidential elections and now Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that his colleagues’ denial of ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh 25-year franchise is a move against one of the country’s oligarchs.
The Palace official, however, did not categorically answer whether Cayetano’s statement is connected with that of the President’s.
“I have no authority to speak for Speaker Cayetano. So perhaps you can ask that question to Speaker Cayetano,” he said.
Prior to the denial of its legislative franchise application on July 10, the National Telecommunications Commission on May 5 ordered ABS-CBN to stop its operations as its franchise expired the day before.
In a speech late last year, Duterte said he will see to it that ABS-CBN is out of business.
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