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Duterte accepts ABS-CBN apology, vows not to meddle in franchise issue

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday accepted the apology of ABS-CBN over his unaired campaign ads during the 2016 presidential election.

“I accept the apology, of course,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang.

Appearing at a Senate hearing on Monday on the broadcast network’s franchise renewal bid, ABS-CBN Corp. president Carlo Katigbak apologized to Duterte.

He said it was not the intention of the company not to air Duterte’s campaign ads

Katigbak added many ads had been placed before Duterte ordered his slots worth P7 million. The President advised ABS-CBN to just donate to charity the P2.6-million refund that he refused to accept.

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

However, the President said on Wednesday that he would not interfere with the franchise renewal process pending in Congress.

“Fundamentally, really, ang decision nasa House ngayon. Not so much of the Senate because the Constitution says all of these things must originate from the Lower House. Forget about all these hullabaloo,” he said.

“The critical move is in the House and I tell you I am not going to interfere. Those who know me alam nila.”

Duterte also defended the mandate of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who filed the quo warranto petition with the Supreme Court seeking to forfeit the current franchise of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.

“I cannot tell him to stop. The SolGen can only announce that there is a violation of law and that he is going to investigate it. Well, hindi ko masabihan, ‘Do not do it. Stop it,’” he said.

“The SolGen does not clear with me, unlike the Secretary of Justice. He will call my attention or he will bring it up in the Cabinet. Ang SolGen hindi,” he said.

He said he never talked to any lawmaker regarding the franchise issue.

Asked if he will sign the enrolled copy of the franchise bill once it reaches his desk, Duterte said, “I will cross the bridge when I am there. Maybe I will call the media to help me out. It would be a difficult decision.”

Duterte can either sign or veto a bill, according to the 1987 Constitution.

Also, any bill that is neither signed nor vetoed by the President will automatically lapse into law 30 days after it was forwarded by Congress.—NB, LDF, GMA News