Palace insists Duterte neutral on ABS-CBN issue as Lopezes ‘still up and about’
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte is “neutral” on the issue hounding the franchise application of ABS-CBN, citing how the other businesses of the Lopez family remain in operation.
“Of course he’s (Duterte) neutral because the Lopezes are still up and about. They have FirstGen, they have Rockwell, they have other business and obviously, ‘yung sinabi niya about the oligarchs did not actually happen to the Lopezes,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Roque said this as Duterte, in an INQUIRER report citing an unedited speech during his recent visit in Jolo, again lambasted the television network after claiming victory over the oligarchs in the country.
This is despite Roque’s earlier claim that the President is neutral on the ABS-CBN issue.
Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block the franchise of the media giant over its failure to air his 2016 presidential campaign advertisement and its supposed biased reporting.
Late last year, Duterte even said that he will see to it that ABS-CBN is out.
Asked to comment on the INQUIRER report, Roque, who was not with Duterte in Jolo, said: “I will not comment on an alleged transcript that I do not have any personal knowledge of.”
He then reiterated that Duterte was not referring to the Lopezes when he declared that he has “dismantled” oligarchy in the country, repeating that the President was referring to Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan and the Ayala clan, all of whom have been subjected to Duterte’s public rants.
ABS-CBN was ordered shut on May 5 following the expiration of its legislative franchise, in compliance with the shutdown order of the National Telecommunications Commission.