Despite the President’s blatant statements against ABS-CBN, Cong. Alfredo Garbin Jr. does not think that the Commander-in-Chief has something to do with the killing of its franchise application last year.
“He talks about issues, accusations against him. Those issues are valid. But with those negative effects, I think he is not the one who adjudicated in any decisions… if you talk about the denial of [the] franchise of ABS-CBN, it was not his office.
“It was Congress. Because it’s Congress, it was the House of Representatives who has the regional jurisdiction to initiate the approval of franchise. So I cannot attribute it to the President,” Garbin said in ANC’s After the Fact with Christian Esguerra.
This was after Congress passed into third reading the bill declaring August 30 as National Press Freedom Day, which Garbin is one of its co-authors.
However, Jonathan De Santos, the chairperson of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, contradicted Garbin’s denial, highlighting Duterte’s previous statement regarding ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
De Santos said, “I’m pretty sure he made his sentiments clear on how he wanted the franchise to go. Recently, he said that even if Congress passed it, he is not going to sign it. I don’t think he has to vote physically to make his wishes known. I guess it just so happened that things went his way.”
Duterte said he will block ABS-CBN’s franchise.
De Santos made such contention given that Duterte in February 2021, declared that he will block the Network’s franchise renewal through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) even if Congress grants it a fresh 25-year license.
“Itong nangyari sa itong mga Lopez Group of Companies. Ang Congress is planning to restore the franchise of the Lopezes. Wala akong problema doon kung i-restore ninyo. But if you say that if they can operate kung may… may ano na sila, no, I will not allow them,” said Duterte.
Duterte also claimed that ABS-CBN still has to settle its obligations with the Government, by which, several government agencies testifying that the Network has no debts to pay.
The President claimed, “Unless and until mabayaran ng mga Lopez ang taxes nila, I will not… I will ignore your franchise and I will not give them the license to operate. Kalokohan ‘yan. Parang binigyan mo sila ng prize for their being or committing criminal acts.”
He also cited the allegation that the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) condoned loans from the Lopez-owned businesses.
“Iyong ito ‘yung pinagbili ng ano, pinagbili ng Lopez iyong Lopez of Companies kasi maraming utang. So binili nila na lahat pati ‘yung mga utang, pinagbili ng Lopez doon sa DBP.
“Ewan ko, ito bangko ito pero na–napabili nila ang–ang kanilang utang lahat doon sa DBP. But after a few years, binili ng DBP uli ‘yung pinagbili nila sa… Ipinagbili nila sa DBP iyong pinagbili nila. This time, medyo wala na ‘yung mga utang-utang. Condone, kung anu-ano ang nilagay nila,” Duterte said.
However, this accusation is not true as DBP in January, denied ever writing off loans to Lopez’s group of companies.
DBP president Emmanuel Herbosa clarified such issue, stating that there is no irregularity in the bank’s disposal of the non-performing loans (NPLs) and non-performing assets (NPAs) by the companies belonging then to the Lopez Group.
“These NPLs and NPAs 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.”