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Senator Leila De Lima believes President Rodrigo Duterte is copying his “idol,” the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, by threatening to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

De Lima on Saturday (December 7) slammed Duterte for saying he will make sure the Lopez-owned network will be unable to renew its franchise.

“[W]hile he has all the legal avenues to address his grievances against ABS-CBN, Mr. Duterte chooses the path Marcos took. Like his idol, he has shown how much of a dictator he can be—spewing tirades against the network, accusing it of biased reporting and of defrauding him in the 2016 elections,” she said in a statement.

De Lima said Duterte’s accusation of bias against ABS-CBN is no different from his attacks against Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Ginagamit ni Duterte ang kapangyarihan at ang kaban ng gobyerno para gipitin ang mga indibidwal, grupo at organisasyon na may personal siyang galit, o iyong mga hindi yumuyukod sa kanyang kapritso o hindi umaayon sa kanyang personal o pulitikal na agenda,” the senator said.

The House of Representatives has yet to act on bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise for another 25 years.

The Lopez-owned network will have to stop its operations if its franchise is left to expire on March 30, 2020.

De Lima appealed to her fellow lawmakers not to allow themselves to be used as a “tool” by Duterte to oppress the media.

“Isipin natin ang malawak na implikasyon ng ating desisyon sa ating mga institusyon: Kung ang isang estasyong nakatutulong sa buhay ng milyon-milyong Pilipino ay basta lamang ipasasara dahil lang sa galit at paghihiganti ng isang taong makasarili, mapaniil at gahaman sa kapangyarihan,” she said.

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