Duterte tells ABS-CBN execs to sell company

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 30) — President Rodrigo Duterte again vented his anger at ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation in his latest speech, even suggesting a way out for the hard-pressed major television network.

"Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo, mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung mangyari. Ako pa sa'yo, pagbili na ninyo 'yan," Duterte said in a talk to earthquake victims in Cotabato Monday.

[Translation: ABS-CBN, your contract is set to expire. I don't know if it will be renewed. If I were you, I'd sell the company.]

In a series of tweets Monday, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Duterte's latest statement bore "all the signs of a shakedown and raises questions over his real intentions for seeking to block the renewal of the broadcast network’s franchise."

"Words that appear to be marching orders to his minions in Congress, led by Alan Peter Cayetano, who has admitted having “personal objections” to renewing the franchise in a clear conflict of interest," they said.

NUJP added, "We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists and on citizens who cherish democracy to band together and protect the free arena of ideas that the closure or forced sale of ABS-CBN would severely weaken."

The franchise of the embattled media corporation will expire in March 2020, unless Congress and Duterte approve its extension.

Congress was unable to tackle five pending bills to extend ABS-CBN's franchise for another 25 years in 2019.

Duterte has also consistently stood firm against the network and its executives.

The President's primary objection stemmed from the network's alleged failure to run his paid campaign advertisements during the 2016 election. 

ABS-CBN is one of the major TV networks in the country, with around 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular employees and 3,325 talents at the end of 2018, according to its report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.