Isabela Rep. Antonio "Tonypet" Albano on Thursday said there was no direct pressure or interference from President Rodrigo Duterte on the issue concerning the franchise renewal application of broadcast network ABS CBN.
Albano, vice chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, made the clarification after saying that the apparent rift between Duterte and the broadcast network is putting pressure on congressmen.
"I never said that President Duterte DIRECTLY pressured us congressmen, and I clarified that by saying that: 'In fairness to the President, he NEVER called any of us congressmen, and NEVER issued any marching orders to tell us what to do'," Albano said in a statement.
Albano noted that the President has never interfered and does not intend to interfere in the business of Congress as he "values the separation of powers and has much respect for us to do so".
Albano also noted that while he values freedom of speech, that right is "not absolute".
"And when the right to speak is used for false news and slander the inherent basic rights of any person, then the freedom of speech becomes libelous and can be curtailed by the government," he said.
Albano also backed Duterte's remarks saying the media has an obligation to serve the public by making sure that they don't misuse their privilege in spreading false or fake news.
"Their franchise defines clearly that they should uphold true public service, will not break any laws, and should not get politicized," he added.
The lawmaker argued that Congress has the right to take away franchises to protect people from misinformation and abuse, especially when "media entities use their privilege to side with certain candidates in violation of their duty and franchise agreement."
ABS CBN's 25 year legislative franchise will expire on March 30, 2020, unless Congress and Duterte allow its extension for another 25 years.
Senators and congressmen have to first pass a ratified bill on ABS CBN's franchise before the President can decide on it.
Amid issues besetting ABS CBN's franchise renewal, Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday filed before the Supreme Court quo warranto petition, seeking the nullification of the franchises of ABS CBN.
Calida accused the broadcasting firm of violating the Constitution when it allowed foreign investors to take part in its ownership by issuing Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS CBN Holdings Corp.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to handle the case concerning ABS CBN's franchise.
Source: Philippines News Agency