‘Let’s move on,’ Palace says on denial of ABS-CBN franchise bid
MANILA, Philippines — “Tapos na po ang boksing (Boxing’s over). Let’s move on.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said this on Monday in reaction to the decision of the House of Representatives to deny the application for a new franchise by ABS-CBN.
Roque said that he, too, was hurt by the denial of ABS-CBN’s bid for another 25-year franchise, but emphasized that the decision made by the House legislative franchises committee should be respected.
During a Palace briefing, Roque stressed that the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal went through a legislative process provided under the Constitution.
“Well, maski po tayo manghinayang e tapos na po ang boksing. At dumaan na po sa proseso sang ayon sa Saligang batas, wala na po tayong magagawa. Let’s move on,” he said when asked if Malacañang sees the rejection of the media giant’s franchise application in terms of how it could help the Department of Education in the implementation of blended learning for the upcoming school year in August.
Earlier in the briefing, Roque reiterated Malacañang’s “neutrality” on the ABS-CBN franchise issue.
“Mula’t mula po sinasabi ng ating Presidente na neutral po siya sa issue ng ABS-CBN. Dati po meron siyang hinanakit nagpatawad na po ang Presidente at nagdesiyon na po ang committee on legislative franchises ng mababang kapulungan,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal against the franchise renewal of the media giant, which he accused of failing to air his paid campaign during the presidential elections in 2016.
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak has since apologized to Duterte.
Nevertheless, Roque said he felt saddened over the fate of ABS-CBN following the decision of the House panel.
“Masakit din po sakin ang nangyari sa ABS-CBN,” he said.
“Nung naging tagapagsalita po ako, malaki rin po ang utang na loob ko dahil number 1 naman po talaga sa reach ang ABS-CBN. Nalulungkot po ako na dumating sa punto na hindi po na-renew ang prangkisa,” he added.
Roque, meanwhile, assured that the over 11,000 employees of ABS-CBN who are at risk of going unemployed can avail of existing government assistance to displaced workers.
Before the House panel voted on ABS-CBN’s franchise, the committee held 13 hearings tackling various issues such as citizenship of the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, alleged labor violations, tax evasion, as well as alleged political bias, among others.
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