Drilon rebukes Duterte: I was defending press freedom, not the Lopezes
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday rebuked President Rodrigo Duterte after the latter accused him of defending the owners of shuttered media giant ABS-CBN.
“I was defending freedom of the press, not the Lopezes. The closure of the ABS-CBN sent a chilling effect,” Drilon said in a statement shortly after Duterte delivered his penultimate State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa.
Within the first five minutes of his Sona, Duterte blasted Drilon over his “arrogant” remarks on oligarchs and accused him of defending the Lopezes.
In an online media forum last July 15, Drilon urged the President to push for the enactment of a proposed law prohibiting political dynasties in order to dismantle oligarchy in the country.
Drilon, in the same forum, clarified that being rich does not “equate” to being an oligarch, pointing out that oligarchy takes place when one influences the decision of the government or uses his or her wealth to pursue a policy that benefits business interest.
This, after the President had claimed that he had dismantled oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law. The chief executive’s remark followed the rejection of ABS-CBN’s new franchise in the House of Representatives.
“As I said before, for democracy to thrive we need free press and to allow journalists to exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear,” Drilon went on.
He said he was also defending the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees who are in danger of losing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic and not the Lopezes..
“In the face of a pandemic, we need more access to information,” Drilon said.
“I aired my support for the renewal of franchise ob ABS-CBN because undeniably the network complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others, even to the government,” Drilon added.
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