President Rodrigo Duterte seems keen on not giving ABS-CBN a chance to be back on air while he’s still in office.
In his latest pronouncements following fresh moves to revive talks about the networks franchise renewal, Duterte again warned that he will not implement its franchise law even if both Congress passed it on.
In his weekly late-night public briefing, the Chief Executive said no franchise will be enforced until the company he’s alluding to settled its obligation to the government.
“Maski na bigyan ninyo ng limang libong franchise ‘yan, hindi i-implement ‘yan… Just because you gave them franchise, it does not follow that all of their misdeeds in the past are condoned.
“For all I care, you can have a 1,000 franchise, you will not see the light of day until you come to government with clean hands. Ika nga, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. . . .Wala akong galit, bayaran mo lang ang gobyerno, sasaludo ako sa inyo limang beses,” Duterte said.
“Did I not tell you noon, sinabi ko sa inyo itong gobyernong na ito para ito sa mahirap? Kita naman ninyo kung sino ang binibira ko, ‘yun ‘yung hindi bumabayad ng buwis and riding on its popularity… yet abandoning its duty to government. And you ask protection from government for your business, in return you pay your taxes correctly,” the President added.
Although he did not name the company, it is obvious that he’s pertaining to ABS-CBN since both Houses of Congress have made fresh moves to start another discussion on the network’s franchise.
On January 4, Sen. Pres. Tito Sotto filed SB 1967 which aims to grant ABS-CBN another 25-year franchise. The House of Representatives meanwhile followed suit when Lipa Rep.Vilma Santos-Recto filed a similar bill on January 5 and Camarines Sur Rep.Gabriel Bordado also filed his version on January 12.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s claim of ABS-CBN’s unpaid taxes and loans has already been discussed and settled during the congressional franchise hearing last year.
The BIR attested during the hearing that ABS-CBN has no outstanding tax liability to the agency even commending the network for being one of the top taxpayers in the country.
“ABS-CBN Corporation ay (is) regularly paying taxes for the past years. Na-check naman po na ‘yung dapat nilang i-withhold at na-remit naman nila sa gobyerno (The amount that it needed to withhold had been checked and it was remitted to the government).
“From 2003 to 2019, ABS-CBN as a group paid P71.5 billion in taxes,” said BIR Assistant Commissioner Manuel Mapoy during the franchise hearing.
With regards to another issue, the DBP loans which many DDS bloggers are using to pound against ABS-CBN, the DBP has recently denied that there has been anomaly or irregularities with regards to the Lopez Group of Companies loan with the government-owned bank.
“It was audited by the Commission on Audit and in the annual audit report, there was no finding of irregularity,” said DBP Senior Vice President Soraya Adiong.
DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa also denied allegations that the Lopez’s loans were written off saying it was sold to the Lehman Brothers based on Republic Act No. 9182 or the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) Act of 2002.
“These NPLs (non-performing loans) and NPAs (non-performing assets) were dealt with in the regular course of business and disposed of by DBP pursuant to Republic Act No. 9182, entitled The Special Purpose Vehicles Act of 2002, as amended by RA No. 9343 and other applicable laws, which authorized financial institutions, like DBP to transfer NPLs and NPAs to SPVs (special purpose vehicles) created under the Act.
“The law provided the avenue for Philippine banks to dispose [of] non-performing assets to be more liquid…. It’s not a loan condonation, we sold it with a P3.83-billion bid in favor of DBP,” said Herbosa.
Duterte has always been at the forefront of opposing the Kapamilya network’s franchise.
As early as 2017 Duterte has made constant public attacks against the network and his preference to block or deny its franchise renewal.
While Malacanang was also consistent in denying Duterte’s hand in the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise application on July 10, he himself made it public that he’s the one behind the vote of 70 Cayetano-led Congressmen.
In a speech in Jolo, Sulu, Duterte proudly announced that he has dismantled an oligarch without declaring martial law.
“Ganun nila nilaro ang bayan ko. Kung mamatay ako, mahulog ang eroplano, I am very happy. Alam mo bakit? Without declaring martial law I dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the economy and the Filipino people,” he said.
“’Yun namang ABS-CBN binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas. Ginawa ko. Without declaring martial law, sinira ko yung mga tao na humahawak sa ekonomiya at umiipit sa tao at hindi nagbabayad. They take advantage, sa kanila political power,” he added.