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ABS-CBN boss finally admits network's mistakes, says sorry to Duterte

ABS-CBN President Carlo Katigbak apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday for failing to air ₱7 million worth of his political ads during the 2016 elections.
Katigbak addressed the President on Monday during a Senate inquiry into issues regarding the network's franchise, which Solicitor General Jose Calida wants to revoke.

Duterte has been publicly ranting against ABS-CBN since assuming office, saying that the network refused to carry his campaign commercials even if these have been already paid for.

Katigbak clarified why the network could not air some of Duterte's ads. He said the President's camp bought a total of ₱182 million in commercial spots, split into ₱117 million for national ads — which were all aired — and ₱65 million in local ads, which would target audience in a specific province.

"Our policy on all our ads is first-come, first-served. Many of these spots were ordered on May 3, and May 7 was the last day of the campaign period. There had been many previous telecast orders that came in ahead," the company executive said.

He went on to explain that slots for local ads were limited to just two minutes per hour, so the network could not find airtime for Duterte's content by then. Katigbak said ABS-CBN refunded about ₱4 million to the President, but got delayed in returning some ₱2.6 million to his camp. He said the President's camp refused to accept the delayed refund.

Duterte went on to win the 2016 elections.

"We acknowledge our shortcoming in our failure to release that refund in a timely manner," Katigbak said. "We are sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network. We felt that we were just abiding by regulations that surround the airing of political ads."

Duterte's personal aide now Senator Christopher "Bong" Go also questioned during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services why ABS-CBN agreed to air an opposition-funded video which he said was meant to tarnish the reputation of the then-mayor of Davao City. The said commercial questioned if a tough-talking, cursing politician would be a good fit to be Philippine president.

The ad has been banned for airing by a Quezon City court, upon the request of Duterte's running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano.

"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 to malign him," Go said. "For me, this is very troublesome. Media networks are supposed to be neutral."

[Translation: The President's grievances against the network are not superficial. The President was hurt, his image has been tarnished.]

Katigbak said the network initially rejected the first version of that ad, but it was eventually cleared for airing after changes were made on what the two kids were doing in the video. "Any politician who comes to our station with an ad that is legal and legitimate must be accommodated," he added. "We continue to improve on our shortcomings. We hope we do a better job in the succeeding elections."

"ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda," Katigbak added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo welcomed the apology, saying that the President will "consider" Katigbak's statement.

"It's personal to him," Panelo said. "I'm glad finally ABS-CBN admitted its shortcomings to the President. Dapat noon pa nila ginawa [They should have done it a long time ago]."

Duterte has vowed to block the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise since late 2018. Last year, he told the Lopezes to just sell the network to a new owner as he would make sure that the TV station is out by 2020.

ABS-CBN boss finally admits network's mistakes, says sorry to Duterte ABS-CBN boss finally admits network's mistakes, says sorry to Duterte Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 1:14:00 AM Rating: 5

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