VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte statements belie Panelo’s claim that the president ‘does not want’ ABS-CBN to shut down

Read this fact check in Filipino

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s claim that President Rodrigo Duterte “does not want” broadcast network ABS-CBN to shut down contradicts the latter’s pronouncements since he assumed the presidency.

STATEMENT

In a media interview on Feb. 17, Panelo was asked if the closure of ABS-CBN is something Duterte “wants to happen under his watch.”

The spokesman said:

“No. He does not want that to happen. It’s for Congress to decide, it’s not his. He does not have the power. And even if he has, his power can be overruled by Congress itself. So it’s for them. So people who are barking against the president is (sic) barking [up] the wrong tree.”

Source: ABS-CBN News, Duterte ‘does not want’ ABS-CBN to close: spokesman, Feb. 18, 2020, watch from 1:26 to 2:00

FACT

Panelo’s claim contradicts Duterte’s statements in previous speeches and interviews.

In a Dec. 3, 2019 speech at the Palace, the president accused ABS-CBN of being a “mouthpiece” of the opposition. Repeating his allegation that the broadcast network did not air an advertisement he paid for during the 2016 presidential campaign, Duterte said:

Ikaw (You), ABS-CBN, you're a mouthpiece of... Ang inyong (Your) franchise, mag (will) end next year. If you are expecting na ma-renew 'yan (that it would be renewed), I'm sorry. You're out. I will see to it that you're out. Ilan kaming mga kandidato na kinuha ninyo ang pera namin (You took the money of so many candidates) but never aired our propaganda.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the oath-taking of the newly appointed government officials, Dec. 3, 2019, watch from 9:04 to 9:30

Less than a month later, Duterte urged the owners to just “sell” the company:

Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo, mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung anong mangyari sa inyo. Ako pa sa’yo, ipagbili niyo na ‘yan. Kasi ang Pilipino 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 is about to expire. I just don’t know what will happen with your renewal. If I were you, I’ll sell the company because it is only now that Filipinos can get back at you for all your foolishness. And I will make sure you remember this episode of our times forever.)”

Source: RTVMalacanang, Visit to the Earthquake Victims in M'lang, Cotabato (Speech), Dec. 30, 2019, watch from 41:31 to 42:05

The president has been hurling his accusations of “swindling” against ABS-CBN since 2017. In a chance interview on April 27 that year, he was asked if he would “block” the network’s franchise renewal. Duterte said:

“Yes! You are engaged in swindling. For all you know, ilang kumpanya dito na nagbayad na hindi ninyo pinalabas (many companies here have paid for an ad that [ABS-CBN] did not air).”

Source: Rappler, Duterte to block renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, April 27, 2017, watch from 0:52 to 1:10

In an August 2018 speech, he again brought up the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal:

“Now, ABS-CBN, ‘yung (their) franchise nila is due for renewal...But I will never also intervene. Pero (But) if I had my way, I will not give it back to you. Magnanakaw kayo eh. Niloloko ninyo ‘yung maliliit (You’re swindlers. You’re fooling the small people).”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the inauguration of Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center, Aug. 3, 2018

Panelo told reporters on Feb. 21 that the president’s previous statements and threats to shut down the network “should not be taken literally.”

Eleven bills are pending at the House of Representatives seeking to grant a new 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN, whose license to operate will expire on March 30. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Feb. 18 said, however, that proceeding with the hearing at this time will just “suck all the energy of the 18th Congress,” to the detriment of other important pending legislation.


Sources

ABS-CBN News, Duterte ‘does not want’ ABS-CBN to close: spokesman, Feb. 18, 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the oath-taking of the newly appointed government officials, Dec. 3, 2019

RTVMalacanang, Visit to the Earthquake Victims in M'lang, Cotabato (Speech), Dec. 30, 2019

Rappler, Duterte to block renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, April 27, 2017

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the inauguration of Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center, Aug. 3, 2018

Congress.gov.ph, Search: “ABS-CBN”

ABS-CBN News, Speaker Cayetano: ABS-CBN franchise bills ‘not that urgent’, Feb. 13, 2020

Inquirer.net, Duterte’s threats vs. ABS-CBN not literal -- Panelo, Feb. 21, 2020

ABS-CBN News, Lawmakers swayed by Duterte's ABS-CBN rants have 'no business being in Congress' - Palace, Feb. 21, 2020

Philstar.com, Panelo: Duterte’s threats vs ABS-CBN not literal, Feb. 21, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

FOR FURTHER READING

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Mga pahayag ni Duterte salungat sa sinabi ni Panelo na ‘ayaw’ ng pangulo na isara ng ABS-CBN

Kabaligtaran sa mga pahayag ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte mula pa nang mahalal na pangulo ang sinabi…

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte's past statements belie Roque's claim that the president is 'neutral' on ABS-CBN issue

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque repeated the false claim of his predecessor Salvador Panelo…

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Mga nakaraang pahayag ni Duterte pinasisinungalingan ang sinabi ni Roque na ‘neutral’ ang presidente sa isyu ng ABS-CBN

Inulit ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque ang maling payahag ng kanyang hinalinhan na si…

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

Contact us

Email us at newsroom@verafiles.org

Follow us

MEMBER