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Lagman questions Duterte’s supposed ‘neutrality’ on ABS-CBN shutdown

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman questioned the claim that President Rodrigo Duterte is “neutral” about the shutdown of ABS-CBN, noting his previous statements threatening to block the renewal of the network’s franchise.

He said the statement of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that the President is “neutral” on whether or not the franchise is renewed “does not give the categorical go-signal for the reasonable consideration and approval of ABS-CBN’s franchise without further delay.”

“A posture of neutrality is still ambivalent and may not convey the exact message which the House leadership is waiting for,” Lagman said.

He noted that it was Duterte’s repeated pronouncements that he is opposed to the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise “which inveigled the leadership of the House of Representatives to unduly temporize on the renewal of the franchise and allowed the same to expire.”

“Now that Duterte has relented after he accepted the explanation and apology of ABS-CBN’s executives on the failure to air all of his paid political advertisements in the 2016 presidential elections, It is not that the Members of the House should be prodded to act based on their conscience, but since the President was the first to muddle the issue on renewal, then it is incumbent on him to unravel the controversy,” Lagman said.

Duterte can do this by “being clear and unequivocal on the urgent and vital congressional approval of the network giant’s franchise,” he added.

“Aside from hastening the resumption of ABS-CBN’s full operations, guaranteeing the jobs of its workers and assuring public access to information and entertainment, this unequivocal statement of the President would also quash any lingering suspicion that a hidden agenda is behind the closure of ABS-CBN,” Lagman said.