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Palace move to edit Duterte speech merits stronger press for more scrutiny — Gabriela

/ 10:44 PM July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The issue on Malacañang’s alleged decision to edit out parts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech in Jolo where he criticized ABS-CBN stresses the need for a more stringent and a stronger press, a party-list group said on Thursday.

Gabriela Women’s Party-list explained that the media is badly needed to check what is being aired by the government, as the President’s statements have far-reaching effects as they resemble policy-making.

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The controversy on the edited speech came after Duterte spewed tirades against ABS-CBN, but only in an audio recording obtained by INQUIRER.net.  However, such tirades were not seen in the edited version which was aired on state television.

“While the Palace insists that there is no policy to edit out the President’s speeches, such recent incident confirms the need for a more vibrant press to serve as checks to what is being officially aired by government agencies,” Gabriela said in a statement.

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“Public statements of the Chief Executive are always imbued with public interest, as these constitute policy pronouncements that can affect the lives of ordinary citizens. Hence, any modification of the broadcast version of the speech deprives the public of transparency and their right to know,” the group added.

Recently, Malacañang claimed that the oligarchs Duterte was referring to, when he said in his speech he dismantled the oligarchy, was not ABS-CBN but other big businesses who are in control of certain utility services.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that Duterte remains neutral on the ABS-CBN issue, insisting that he did not have a hand on ABS-CBN’s shutdown.

In the full, unedited audio of the speech, which Malacañang did not release to the public, the President said that ABS-CBN defiled him, and that he dismantled the oligarchy without declaring martial law.

“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 [what he was saying] about the oligarchs did not actually happen to the Lopezes,” Roque said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.

But according to Gabriela, Roque’s clarification is only an attempt to remove links between Duterte and the junking of ABS-CBN’s franchise bid.

“In fact, his full unedited speech has confirmed what we have been saying from the start of the franchise hearing — that this is all about the President’s vindictive string-pulling to make sure that the network is out this year, at the expense of jobs and press freedom,” Gabriela added.

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ABS-CBN’s fate is currently in question after 70 members from the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises — House officials included — voted in favor of a technical working group report denying the network of a new franchise.

On Wednesday, the network announced plans to end some of its businesses and subsidiaries, as well as a retrenchment of some of its employees.

ABS-CBN’s shutdown came after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order (CDO) last May 5 after their old franchise expired.

After ABS-CBN’s problems became imminent, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios admitted that the CDO was released due to questions on the validity of its franchise.

Cabarios did not explicitly mention what questions were raised, but Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against the network before the Supreme Court last February, for allegedly hiding foreign ownership behind a corporate veil. With reports from Jim Mendoza, trainee

JPV
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TAGS: ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN franchise, ABS-CBN News Channel, ANC, Ces Oreña-Drilon, franchise issue, free television, Gabriela, Gabriela women’s party list, House committee on legislative franchises, House of Representatives, Jolo speech, Journalism, Journalist, Malacañang, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte, radio broadcasts, retrenchment
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