Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte enjoys a strong trust rating among Filipinos, a good sign that the country is supportive of most if not all of his policies. And while President Duterte is sanguine towards supporters, he is also harsh towards critics and opposition figures. ABS-CBN felt this first-hand when, having decided not to run a paid-for Duterte campaign ad before the 2016 Elections in lieu of one from vocal opponent Antonio Trillanes, then a Senator, the President has seemingly blocked all legislation to have the major network’s license renewed before it expires next year. Meanwhile, its other rivals have successfully renewed theirs without much incident.
Case in point, The Philippine Star reports that a Congressional bill to extend the operating license of ABC Development Corp., the network formerly known as ABC5 and now branded TV5, had lapsed into law. Republic Act 11320, which would renew the TV5 license for 25 more years, had actually been passed in Congress and submitted to the President’s Office. As Duterte had done nothing concerning the bill 30 days after submission, it passed into law as of April 22. The TV5 license renewal would have only been stopped if the President actively vetoed the measure; his inaction counts as a signature according to the Constitution.
With the renewed license for TV5, the “third network” to the fiercely competing duo of ABS-CBN and GMA7, the spotlight shines even brighter on the similar renewal measure for the Kapamilya Network, which President Duterte in the past has sworn to block using any measure. An alternative interpretation has been given this week by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo to ABS-CBN News this week. Asked about the TV5 renewal, Panelo explains that Duterte’s comments aside, ultimately it is the Congress who will determine if the ABS-CBN operating license will be renewed.
The network franchise of ABS-CBN will expire on March 2020 next year, and the most recent legislation to have it renewed (House Bill 4349) was frozen in Congress due to the closing of the 17th Congress in June. It will not be brought up again until the 18th Congress starts session in July 22, when it must be re-filed. Despite Panelo’s statement, there remains the possibility that President Rodrigo Duterte will watch out for any passed renewal bill for the Kapamilya Network and veto it. In the meantime ABS-CBN is expanding its online media streaming platform, apparently in the worst case scenario when the broadcast TV network license cannot be renewed and must cease operations.
Image courtesy of Inquirer – Business