By Prince Golez
Malacañang refuted on Thursday reports by some international media blaming President Rodrigo Duterte for the shutdown of ABS-CBN.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar rejected as “totally unfair,” “objectionable,” and “erroneous” assertions that ABS-CBN was forced off air due to Duterte’s ire against the network.
Its shutdown was brought about by the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise last May 4, explained Andanar, defending the National Telecommunications Commission’s order to stop the operations of the broadcast firm beyond its franchise expiry.
He added that Congress has the exclusive power to issue and renew franchises and that the President only signs the law to be executory.
“Decision regarding the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN falls within the purview and wisdom of Congress and ABS-CBN has the right to pursue any and exhaust all legal remedies it deems necessary to resolve the matter,” according to the Palace official.
Andanar also clarified that the closure of ABS-CBN Tuesday night was not an issue of press freedom but of an expired franchise.
“Democracy, and the free press and free speech that come with it, is very much alive in the country and effectively protected,” he said.