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Pacquiao says he supports return of ABS-CBN's franchise

Presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday said he would support the renewal of the franchise of media network ABS-CBN if he wins in the 2022 presidential race.

“Susuportahan ko po. At yung press freedom importante po yan sa ating mga Pilipino,” the former world boxing champion said in an interview with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines when asked if he would support the return of the media network.

(I will support that. And press freedom is important to us Filipinos.)

Pacquiao cited Article 3 Section 4 of the Constitution which states that "[n]o law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

ABS-CBN went off the air in May 2020 in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission's order for it to cease operations after its legislative franchise expired.

Before that, President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened o block the franchise of ABS-CBN as he called out the network for not airing his paid political advertisements during the 2016 election campaign .

Malacañang insisted that Duterte did not influence lawmakers from the House of Representatives in voting against the franchise renewal.

ABS-CBN had apologized to Duterte over the unaired advertisement, and the President had accepted the apology.

Lawmakers had cited ABS-CBN's alleged violations, including supposed tax avoidance schemes, in voting against its franchise renewal

ABS-CBN Group chief financial officer Ricardo Tan in 2020 maintained that ABS-CBN paid all its taxes annually, and complied with all the rules and regulations involving tax payments. —KBK, GMA News