President Rodrigo Duterte's problem with ABS-CBN is far from shallow, his former special assistant Senator Christopher "Bong" Go told the Senate committee that heard arguments on a new legislative franchise for the network on Monday.
Go said candidate Duterte lost valuable campaign airtime in 2016 after ABS-CBN chose to prioritize an ad that maligned the then mayor of Davao City instead of airing his ad which has already been paid .
He said airing the black propaganda video appeared to be more important than earning income from airing legitimate ads that have already been paid for.
“The non-airing of ads already paid for, and the subsequent airing of ads for the purpose of maligning a person, display an intent to oppose a particular candidate. Sino ba ang gumawa nito? Sino ba ang nagbayad para dito?” he said.
“Pinabayaan ng network na ma-ere ang paninira na ito. This is clearly black propaganda. Sino ang pumayag na i-ere ito? Bakit ninyo pinayagan? Bakit kinailangan pa ng TRO (temporary restraining order) para mahinto ang pag-ere nito?” he added.
Go said Duterte’s grievances against ABS-CBN is not shallow.
“Hindi mababaw ang rason ng Pangulo sa kanyang grievances against the network. Nasaktan ang Presidente. Nababoy ang Presidente. Hindi vindictive ang Pangulo, but it is clear that someone went overboard in trying to malign him,” he said.
He said because of the non airing of Duterte’s ads and the airing of the ads against him deprived the then presidential candidate critical time to campaign.
"Nawalan ng mahalagang oras sa kampanya ang isang kandidato dahil mas pinili ng ABS CBN na i-ere ang black propaganda for a slot that could have been used by ads that have already been paid for. It is unfair to allow a negative ad 2 to 3 days before the election and then not approve legitimate ads for then presidential candidate Mayor Duterte,” he said.
He said this practice is troublesome because media networks who are supposed to be neutral and impartial allegedly chose to air ads that could destroy a candidate.
“Anong kasiguraduhan na di na ito mauulit? Kung nagawa ito sa kandidato na Mayor sa probinsya ng Davao, paano pa kaya sa ordinaryong Pilipino? At sa ordinaryong mamamayan na takot makipag laban?” he said.
During the hearing, ABS-CBN Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak apologized to Duterte.
"We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network. We felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” he said.
Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, which is set to expire in March.
"We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network," Katigbak said during the hearing of the Senate public services committee tackling the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise.
"We felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads."
Katigbak said their policy on all advertisements was first come, first served, and many ads had been placed before Duterte ordered his slots.
“Many of these spots were ordered [by Duterte] on May 3rd and May 7 was the last day of the campaign period. So there had been many previous telecasts that came in ahead of the President’s ads,” Katigbak said.
Katigbak said they aired the ads placed by then-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a critic of Duterte, because they did not violate the law.
“Sa ad ni Senator Trillanes, under the Fair Elections Act, lawful election propaganda shall include for or against the candidacy. That to us was the first reason why our internal committee gave a green light to the ad," Katigbak said.
"The second reason, they felt that unlike the first version which we rejected because we felt the children were performing inappropriate actions or behavior, there was a revised version of the ad that showed the children merely asking questions. It did not violate any of our internal policies,” he added. —NB, GMA News