President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that he used "presidential powers" to target ABS-CBN, which lost its broadcast franchise in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte, whose term ends at noon on Thursday, again accused the Lopez-led network of tax evasion even if the Bureau of Internal Revenue had told lawmakers who killed the franchise that ABS-CBN paid its taxes in full.
"Kaya tinira ko talaga sila... 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," Duterte said during the oath-taking of newly elected local government officials of his hometown Davao City.
ABS-CBN went off-air in May 2020 after its franchise expired. In July of the same year, Congress -- dominated by President Duterte's allies -- denied the network's application for a fresh 25-year license that was seen as a fulfillment of the chief executive's threats.
Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block ABS-CBN's franchise renewal in several speeches throughout his presidency. On Dec. 3, 2019, Duterte told ABS-CBN that “I will see to it that you are out.”