Duterte admits using 'presidential powers' vs ABS-CBN

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 27) — Less than a week before he leaves his post, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he "used the presidential powers" against former broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

"I used the presidential powers to tell Congress that you are dealing with scoundrels and if you continue to kowtow with them, kawawa ang Pilipino," he said during the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected local government officials of Davao City.

ABS-CBN went off-air in May 2020 after a cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission following the lapse of its franchise. Critics of the government's move called it an attack against press freedom.

Two months later, the Committee on Legislative Franchises of the House of Representatives rejected the group's application for a new franchise, forcing the network to let go thousands of its workers in the middle of a pandemic.

In his speech, Duterte also insisted that the media company "never paid taxes".

"Kaya tinira ko talaga sila (That's why I really targeted them)," he added.

Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), however, said in February 2020 that ABS-CBN did not violate any corporate laws and has regularly paid its taxes.

READ: ABS-CBN did not commit violations – BIR, SEC

Duterte's former personal aide, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, in a 2020 Senate hearing said the president was hurt when ABS-CBN aired an opposition-funded video which tarnished the reputation of the then Davao City mayor and presidential candidate. The commercial questioned if a tough-talking, cursing politician would be a good fit for president.

The network has also closely reported on Duterte's war on drugs that has left thousands of people dead.