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Drilon hits back at Duterte over SONA outburst: I was defending 11,000 ABS-CBN workers who will lose jobs

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon has defended himself from tirades thrown by President Rodrigo Duterte during the latter’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

President Duterte, in his fifth annual public address, blasted Drilon for allegedly protecting and defending the oligarchy, particularly the Lopez family who controls the embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN, after the House of Representatives denied the franchise application of the media conglomerate.

According to Drilon, he was not defending any oligarchic family but rather he just expressed concern to the more than 11,000 employees that are expected to lose their jobs and as the Kapamilya network is expected to trim down its operations following the denial of its congressional franchise renewal.

“I was defending the 11,000 people and their families who would lose jobs amid the pandemic, not the Lopezes,” said Drilon.

Drilon added that “for democracy to thrive, we need free press and to allow journalists to exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear.”

“In the face of a pandemic, we need more access to information. I aired my support for the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN because undeniably the network complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others even to the government,” said Drilon.

Duterte slammed Drilon and the Lopezes during the opening salvo of his Monday’s address in front of the Joint Session of Congress in the plenary hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex.

The chief executive claimed that he was a “casualty” of the Lopez company’s bad journalism practice during the 2016 presidential polls.

The President also accused Drilon of his alleged participation in the anomalous concession agreements with water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad—the latter previously owned and controlled by the Lopez family.

Drilon shrugged off the allegations, saying that he was no longer part of the ACCRA Law Firm when the concession agreement was finalized during the latter part of the 1990s.

“Wala po akong ginawa na naging abugado ng mga Lopezes, wala po akong pakialam sa sinasabing concession agreement ng pangulo. Wala na po ako sa ACCRA nun,” said Drilon.

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