With one less channel on the airwaves, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque held a televised press conference and spoke up on the presidential position regarding NTC’s shutdown of ABS-CBN.
Roque stressed the entire issue of the network’s franchise was under Congressional purview.
“Ang isyu ng ABS-CBN franchise ay nasa primary and exclusive jurisdiction ng Kongreso,” he said. “Kahit gusto po na makapagbigay ng prangkisa ng Presidente sa ABS-CBN, wala siyang ganyang kapangyarihan.”
To the legislative body, he said: “Huwag po kayong mag-alala, mga congressmen. Hindi po magagagalit, hindi matutuwa ang Presidente kung inyong ipasa ang prangkisa ng ABS-CBN. Completely neutral ang Presidente.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has previously accused the network of being biased. He's chided the network for not airing his political campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections, yet allowing negative advertisements by his political opponents.
Since the TV network was ordered off the air yesterday by the National Telecommunications Commission, the hashtag #NoToABSCBNShutdown has trended on social media.
As of posting, it has 1.2 million tweets.
Roque addressed the furor during his briefing. Of the 11,000 workers in the network that would lose their jobs, he said, “Siguro hindi prudent.”
In a separate interview with Karen Davila of ANC's Headstart, Roque claimed the NTC decision had taken him, as well as two other "high-level Palace officials", by surprise.
The NTC move has been widely criticized as an attack on press freedom.
“The move is clearly a case of political harassment against a pillar of Philippine democracy that employs thousands of Filipinos whose livelihoods are now at risk with the order,” the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines said in a statement.
Roque said the Palace completely understands the misgivings, but urged critics, “Dalhin po nila ang kanilang reklamo sa Kongreso.”