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Duterte's threat to shut down ABS-CBN should not be taken literally —Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades and threats against ABS-CBN Corporation should not be taken literally, his spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday.

Panelo assured the president will not use the powers of his office to shutter the broadcasting network, whose franchise to operate is expiring in March this year.

“The President’s utterances on his personal displeasure with ABS-CBN and his statement that he will see to it that ABS-CBN will be shut down, that should not be taken literally,” Panelo told reporters.

Panelo said only Congress has the authority to grant or reject ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal despite the President’s distaste for the network.

“He will not use his office to stop ABS-CBN from continuing with its service, that’s for Congress to decide, not for him.”

Duterte had repeatedly said he would block the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN, one of the country’s leading media companies.

He accused ABS-CBN of not airing a political advertisement in 2016 that was already paid for by his campaign team.

Last week, the Office of the Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to forfeit ABS-CBN’s franchise over alleged violations, an action denounced by the network, several media groups and journalism schools.

In its petition, the OSG claimed that the network had been operating a pay-per-view channel without the necessary permit from the government and that it issued Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners supposedly in violation of the rule limiting media ownership to Filipinos.

ABS-CBN, whose franchise expires on March 30, said it did not violate the law. —LDF, GMA News