Donation not linked to franchise denial–Palace
The donations of ABS-CBN to the new coronavirus response had nothing to do with the nonrenewal of its broadcasting franchise, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier questioned the network’s P200-million donation and the funds it had raised from its viewers, saying the media giant “could have done more.”
“No, [it was not the reason],” Roque said. “I was only putting in context [why] President Duterte forgave the oligarchs, the Ayalas and the MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) group of companies,” he said, referring to the owners of Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services.
While the network engaged in fund-raising among its viewers, the two tycoons “did it on their own” and earned the President’s gratitude, Roque said. Mr. Duterte subsequently apologized for his “hurtful words” and expressed willingness to discuss the water concession agreement in Metro Manila.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Roque said Pangilinan’s group donated P6.5 billion while the Ayalas pitched in P9 billion for the COVID-19 response efforts.
Not off the hook
Roque recalled that he had already prepared several cases against the two water firms for the 2019 water crisis on instructions of the President, but the pandemic happened and the water firms’ owners rose to the occasion.
“So that was the context—why the President was moved, why he didn’t push through with the cases,” Roque said.
But the water concessionaires are not yet off the hook, the Palace official added, as “the President said the water concession agreement needs to be amended, and [the owners] have to return what they owe to the people.”
Roque also declined to comment on exiled communist leader Jose Ma. Sison’s claim that Mr. Duterte was the “chief political representative of oligarchy” in the country.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.