Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology, but quo warranto case continues

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 26, said he accepts the apology issued by ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak, but he could not do anything to stop the quo warranto petition against the television network.

"Yes, nandyan na yan. I accept the apology. Of course," Duterte told reporters after speaking before the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Wednesday.

The President said, however, that his hands are tied with regards to the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

The petition, which seeks to revoke the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN, is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court en banc on March 10, 2020.

"Ang problema kasi nito sa Solgen, once he makes an official statement that there is a violation of law, I cannot tell him to stop... Hindi ko masabihan... The Solgen does not clear with me, unlike the Secretary of Justice," the President said.

He also reiterated that he has been keeping a "healthy distance" from the network's application for franchise renewal and stressed that he will not interfere.

"Fundamentally, really ang decision nasa House ngayon, not so much sa Senate, because all of these things must originate sa (lower) House. Forget about all this hullabaloo. The critical move is in the House and, I tell you, I am not going to interfere," he said.

Asked if he was supportive of ABS-CBN's application for franchise renewal now that network executives have apologized, he repeated that any decision on the matter lies with Congress.

The President also said he will no longer accept from ABS-CBN the balance of the refund for the unaired campaign ads that his camp placed during the 2016 elections.

"Ibigay na lang nila sa any charitable institution of their choice (They can give it to any charitable institution of their choice)," he said.

During the Senate hearing Monday, February 24, into ABS-CBN's compliance with the terms of its franchise, Katigbak apologized for the network's failure to air about P7 million worth of campaign ads from Duterte, a Davao City mayor who ran for President in 2016 and won.

He said the network refunded about P4 million to Duterte.

Katigbak issued the apology after Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, a former aide of the President who still accompanies him to some official and private events, said that Duterte was hurt and dehumanized by the airing of a video that maligned him.

The video was paid for by the camp of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the President's most vocal critics. It showed children questioning Duterte who issued a death threat and cursed the pope, among others.

Duterte secured a temporary restraining order from a regional trial court to stop the airing of the video. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)