Duterte admits using presidential powers to target ABS-CBN

·2 min read
QUEZON, PHILIPPINES - FEBRUARY 11: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is seen on a monitor in the newsroom of ABS-CBN News on February 11, 2020 in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The Philippine government on Monday moved to shut down the country's leading broadcast network, ABS-CBN Corp., over alleged constitutional violations, in what is seen by critics as the latest push by President Rodrigo Duterte against media outlets that have been critical of his leadership. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
QUEZON, PHILIPPINES - FEBRUARY 11: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is seen on a monitor in the newsroom of ABS-CBN News on February 11, 2020 in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The Philippine government on Monday moved to shut down the country's leading broadcast network, ABS-CBN Corp., over alleged constitutional violations, in what is seen by critics as the latest push by President Rodrigo Duterte against media outlets that have been critical of his leadership. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

The Congress’ independence is yet again put into question as outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte admitted in an oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected Davao City officials that he used his powers as president to attack ABS-CBN.

Kaya tinira ko talaga sila [ABS-CBN]. Talagang I used the presidential powers to tell Congress that you are dealing with scoundrels, and if you continue to kowtow with them, kawawa ang Pilipino,” he said on Monday (June 27).

(That’s why I really aimed at them. I really used presidential powers to tell Congress that you are dealing with scoundrels, and if you continue to kowtow with them, it’s a pity to Filipinos.)

This goes completely against the statement of former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who said in July 2020 that Duterte was “neutral” on the shutdown of ABS-CBN.

“The decision of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation is a sole prerogative of Congress that we in the Executive recognize,” he said. “The Palace has maintained a neutral stance on the issue as it respects the separation of powers between the two co-equal branches [of] government.”

Duterte’s shutdown of the media network was met with criticism and supposedly led to “information gaps”, especially in the reportage of natural calamities that some far-flung communities highly depended on.

Weeks after the shut down, Duterte claimed that he was a “casualty” of the network after the latter failed to air P6.6 million worth of his political ads and aired a controversial anti-Duterte ad funded by former senator Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The network has since then returned at least P4 million, but was told by Duterte to donate the rest to charity.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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