Official releases from his own agency refute Press Secretary Martin Andanar’s claim that media reports linking President Rodrigo Duterte to ABS-CBN’s closure are “scant in factual basis.”
The full transcripts and audio and video recordings of Duterte’s speeches and media interviews show the president unleashing on multiple occasions his “ire” on the country’s biggest network and threatening to shut it down, as media reports say.
Meanwhile, Andanar's claim that the president had no hand in the National Telecommunications Commission's cease-and-desist order to ABS-CBN, supposedly because he had accepted its apology, needs to be placed in the context of the network's protracted franchise application.
His acceptance of the apology happened toward the end of the application window for the network to successfully be able to secure congressional approval.
ABS-CBN stopped broadcasting on May 5, a day after its 25-year legislative franchise expired, when the NTC reneged on its commitment to Congress to issue the network a provisional authority to operate and released a cease-and-desist order instead. ABS-CBN’s application has been pending in Congress since 2014.
Responding to critical reports in the local and international media linking the president to the closure, Andanar in a May 7 statement stressed the NTC’s independence as a regulatory, quasi-judicial body and Congress’ authority to issue broadcast franchises.
He also said:
Let us be reminded that President Duterte has accepted the apology of ABS-CBN Corporation and this thereby undermines any assumption that the President was behind NTC's decision…
It is, therefore, totally unfair and objectionable for some parties and some international media to insist that what happened to the network is due to 'having incurred the ire' of the President. This assertion is remarkably erroneous, lacks objectivity and scant in factual basis. Simply, a false narrative.
Yet, Duterte had repeatedly accused ABS-CBN of fraud, slamming the network for not running his campaign ad in the 2016 elections but airing a controversial ad of then Sen Antonio Trillanes.
At the same time, he admitted he had refused to accept the P2.6 million payment the network was refunding him.
Duterte also took issue with the ABS-CBN's reports on Trillanes' allegation during the 2016 campaign that he had failed to declare P211 million in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) when he was mayor of Davao City and its reports on the brutal war on drugs launched shortly after he assumed the presidency.
Speeches and press briefings retrieved from the website of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, which Andanar heads, indicate the president attacked the network on at least a dozen occasions. (The list of speeches and press briefings has been updated. -- Ed.)
These were during the awarding of the Go Negosyo’s Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs 2017 at Malacanang on March 30, 2017; oathtaking of appointed officials and the Philippine Councilors’ League also at Malacanang that day; groundbreaking ceremony and launching of the new housing design for the military and police in Davao City on May 19, 2017; inauguration of a drug rehabilitation center in Bukidnon on Aug. 3, 2018; conference of the League of Municipalities Visayas Island Cluster in Cebu City on Aug. 21, 2018; distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award to agrarian reform beneficiaries on Boracay island on Nov. 8, 2018; the president’s media interview following the event; the 1st Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Nov. 10, 2018; general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel on Feb. 26, 2019; oathtaking of newly appointed government officials in Malacanang on Dec. 3, 2019; ceremonial signing of the Postponement of the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections Act also on Dec. 3, 2019; and Duterte’s visit to the earthquake victims in M’Lang, Cotabato on Dec. 30, 2019.
In his Dec. 3, 2019 speech before newly appointed government officials, Duterte categorically said he would see to it that ABS-CBN’s franchise would not be renewed:
Ikaw, ABS-CBN, you're a mouthpiece of... Ang inyong franchise, mag-end next year (You, ABS-CBN, you’re a mouthpiece of…Your franchise will end next year). If you are expecting na ma-renew 'yan, I'm sorry. You're out. I will see to it that you're out .
One of the earliest occasions where the president expressed opposition to the renewal of the network's franchise was the May 19, 2017 launching of the new housing design for the military and police in Davao City:
Ngayong franchise ninyo, kumpyansa kayo because ang franchise is renewable this year...ang record mo, no need for another franchise (About your franchise, you're confident because the franchise is renewable this year...Based on your record, no need for another franchise). But I’m telling you now. I will be filing charges of multiple syndicated estafa.
At the inauguration of a drug rehabilitation center in Bukidnon on Aug. 3, 2018, Duterte reiterated his position:
Now, ABS-CBN, ‘yung franchise nila is due for renewal. Sige padala ng emissary kausapin ako. Pinaalis na nila si Gabby eh, kasi nila nothing will happen eh. I will not talk to you. But I will never also intervene. Pero if I had my way, I will not give it back to you (ABS-CBN's franchise is due for renewal. The network sent an emissary to talk to him. They got rid of Gabby [Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III, ABS-CBN Corp. chairman until 2018, now chairman emeritus) because nothing will happen. But I will never also intervene. But if I had my way, I will not give it back to you).
He said in his Nov. 8, 2018 media interview in Boracay:
The franchise of ABS-CBN. Well, I’ll tell you in public now. No, I said they have committed so many frauds. They have to answer for it. If they cannot explain to me why they should not be given an extension on how not to run an outfit…I said I’m going to oppose it…
He also said that day:
I am just letting you know that ABS-CBN has not come up with the standard of being a media outlet or a medium of communication.
Duterte also referred to ABS-CBN’s franchise in his Feb. 26, 2019 speech:
ABS-CBN inaabangan ko 'yan kasi marami kaming dinispalko 'yung pera. That is a violation of a franchise. Marami. Pati 'yung mga --- maraming binaboy nila diyan na hindi naman totoo. So 'yang franchise ninyo, hindi dahil na galit ako. Inotso ninyo kami (I’m watching what would happen to ABS-CBN because it embezzled a lot of money. That is a violation of a franchise. Many. It ruined many by spreading untruths. So your franchise, it’s not because I’m angry. You swindled us).
In his Dec. 30, 2019, the president suggested that the owners of ABS-CBN consider selling the network:
Itong ABS mag-expire ang contract ninyo. Mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung may mangyari sa inyo. Ako pa sa iyo, ipagbili na ninyo 'yan. Kasi ang Piliipino ngayon lang makaganti sa inyong kalokohan. And I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times forever (This ABS-CBN, your contract will expire. When you renew, I don’t know what will happen to you. If I were you, I’d sell it because it's only now Filpiinos can get back at you for your shenanigans. And I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times forever).
The president, however, has acknowledged that there were other candidates whose political ads did not air on ABS-CBN and that the network tried to refund his money. In the media interview in Boracay, he said:
But it is really true, it’s a matter of record that they offered to pay and I refused to accept it because it was returned to me, proposed to return the money — it was too late, after the elections.
Last Feb. 26, Duterte accepted the apology ABS-CBN Corp. president and CEO Carlo Katigbak made at a Senate committee hearing but said he would still not accept the refund:
I accept the apology, of course…Huwag na. Ibigay na lang nila sa (Not anymore. They should just give the money to) any charitable institution of their choice.
He also said it was up to Congress to decide the network’s fate:
But fundamentally, really, ang decision nasa House ngayon (the decision is now with the House of Representatives. Not so much of the Senate because the Constitution says all of these things must originate from the Lower House. ‘Yan ang ano (That's how it is). Forget about all these hullabaloo.
Duterte also said he could not stop Solicitor General Jose Calida who filed a quo warranto case against ABS-CBN on Feb. 10 for supposedly violating the terms of its franchise.
In mid-March, NTC assured Congress it would issue ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue operating while its franchise application was pending in the legislature.
A day before the network’s franchise expired, Calida warned the NTC it could be prosecuted for graft if it issued the provisional authority, saying only Congress can grant franchises to public utilities, including broadcasting companies, for their operation.
Media interview with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following the ceremonial distribution of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to agrarian reform beneficiaries. (2018, November 8). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/media-interview/media-interview-with-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-following-the-ceremonial-distribution-of-the-certificates-of-land-ownership-award-cloa-to-agrarian-reform-beneficiaries/
RTVM. (2020, February 26). Media Interview - Malacañan Palace [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/xreqmI4bsd0
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 1st Subaraw Biodiversity Festival. (2018, November 10). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/20181110-SPEECH-OF-PRRD-DURING-THE-1st-SUBARAW-FESTIVAL.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 2019 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines. (2019, February 26). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/20190226-SPEECH-OF-PRESIDENT-RODRIGO-ROA-DUTERTE-DURING-THE-2019-GENERAL-ASSEMBLY-OF-THE-LEAGUE-OF-MUNICIPALITIES-OF-THE-PHILIPPINES-LMP.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the awarding of the Go Negosyo’s Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs 2017. (2017, March 30). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/march-30-2017-speech-of-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-during-the-awarding-of-the-go-negosyos-inspiring-filipina-entrepreneurs-2017/
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the ceremonial distribution of the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to agrarian reform beneficiaries. (2018, November 8). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/20181108-SPEECH-OF-PRRD-DURING-THE-CEREMONIAL-DISTRIBUTION-OF-THE-CERTIFICATES-OF-LAND-OWNERSHIP-AWARD-CLOA-TO-AGRARIAN-REFORM-BENEFICIARIES.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the ceremonial signing of the Postponement of the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections Act and Malasakit Center Act. (2019, December 3). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20191203-Speech-Of-President-Rodrigo-Roa-Duterte-During-The-Ceremonial-Signing-Of-The-Postponement-Of-The-2020-Barangay-And-Sangguniang-Kabataan-Elections-Act-And-Malasakit-Center-Act.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the conference of the League of Municipalities Visayas Island Cluster. (2018, August 21). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/20180821-SPEECH-OF-PRESIDENT-RODRIGO-ROA-DUTERTE-DURING-THE-CONFERENCE-OF-THE-LEAGUE-OF-MUNICIPALITIES-LMP-VISAYAS-ISLAND-CLUSTER.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the groundbreaking ceremony and launching of AFP / PNP new housing design and modalities of Madayaw Residences. (2017, May 19). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/speech-of-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-during-the-groundbreaking-and-launching-of-the-armed-forces-of-the-philippines-philippine-national-police-housing-design-and-modalities/
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the inauguration of Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center. (2018, August 3). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/20180803-SPEECH-OF-PRESIDENT-RODRIGO-ROA-DUTERTE-DURING-THE-INAUGURATION-OF-NORTHERN-MINDANAO-WELLNESS-AND-REINTEGRATION-CENTER1140567616-2.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the mass oathtaking of appointed officials and the Philippine Councilors’ League. (2017, March 30). Retrieved from http://pcoo.gov.ph/march-30-2017-speech-of-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-during-the-mass-oathtaking-of-appointed-officials-and-the-philippine-councilors-league/
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the oathtaking of the newly appointed government officials. (2019, December 3). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20191203-SPEECH-OF-PRESIDENT-RODRIGO-ROA-DUTERTE-DURING-THE-OATH-TAKING-OF-THE-NEWLY-APPOINTED-GOVERNMENT-OFFICIALS.pdf
Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the visit to the earthquake victims in M’Lang, Cotabato. (2019, December 30). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Speech-of-President-Rodrigo-Roa-Duterte-during-the-visit-to-the-earthquake-victims-in-MLang-Cotabato.pdf
Statement of PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar in response to unjust and unfair reports by some international media associating President Duterte with the shutdown of ABS-CBN Corporation. (2020, February 26). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/news_releases/statement-of-pcoo-secretary-martin-andanar-in-response-to-unjust-and-unfair-reports-by-some-international-media-associating-president-duterte-with-the-shutdown-of-abs-cbn-corporation/