President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 26, accepted the apology of media giant ABS-CBN over his campaign ads that were not aired during the 2016 presidential election.
In an interview at Malacañang, Duterte told reporters that he accepts the apology.
“Nandiyan na ‘yan. Yes, I accept the apology,” Duterte said.
However, he noted that he would leave the fate of the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN to Congress.
The President also distanced himself from Solicitor General Jose Calida, who filed a quo warranto petition against the network for allegedly violating the terms of its franchises.
“The SolGen does not clear with me, unlike the Secretary of Justice,” he said.
“You call my attention or he will bring it up in the Cabinet,” he added.
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak issued the apology on Monday at a Senate committee hearing after Senator Christopher “Bong” Go demanded an explanation on why the network failed to air Duterte’s political ads worth P7 million and instead, put out “black propaganda” funded by then-senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Katigbak explained that the President’s camp bought a total of P182 million in commercial spots, split into P117 million for national ads — which were all aired — and P65 million in local ads, which would target audience in a specific province.
“Our policy on all our ads is first-come, first-served. Many of these spots were ordered on May 3, and May 7 was the last day of the campaign period. There had been many previous telecast orders that came in ahead,” he said.
Katigbak noted that slots for local ads were limited to just two minutes per hour, so the network could not find airtime for Duterte’s content by then.
He said ABS-CBN refunded about P4 million to the President, but got delayed in returning some P2.6 million to his camp.
He noted that the President’s camp refused to accept the delayed refund.
“We acknowledge our shortcoming in our failure to release that refund in a timely manner. We’re sorry if we offended the President, that is not the intention of the network,” he said.
“We felt that we were just abiding by the law and regulations surrounding the airing of political ads,” he added.
During the Senate inquiry, senators asked resource persons from government agencies, as well as ABS-CBN executives, to set the record straight on allegations against the network.
The ABS-CBN was cleared over issues of taxes, labor conditions, and Philippine Depositary Receipts.