Duterte: Firms must settle accounts to have franchise

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on January 18, 2021. SIMEON CELI/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned he would not allow any company to operate with a franchise if it did not settle its government obligations.

"I assure you, all franchises will not be implemented. I will not implement them until they settle their full accounts with the government," Duterte said during the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting.

The President also stressed the government serves the interests of the poor and he will not allow large entities to escape with their duty by not paying taxes correctly.

"For all I care, you can have a 1,000 franchise, you will not see the light of day until you come to government with clean hands. Wala akong galit, bayaran mo lang ang gobyerno, sasaludo ako sa inyo limang beses (I'm not angry. Just pay your taxes to the government and I will even salute to you five times)," he said.

Duterte did not name a specific company during his weekly public address.

The alleged tax-avoidance schemes of ABS-CBN Corporation has been pointed out as one of the reasons for the broadcast giant's non-franchise renewal by the House of Representatives last July. The National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN to cease their broadcast last May 5 with their franchise expiration.

However, the Bureau of Internal Revenue cleared ABS-CBN in February 2020 of any tax liability, saying the company paid ₱70.5 billion in taxes in the past 17 years.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Batangas 6th district Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, who were prominent actors in the country, filed separate bills to grant the Lopez-owned media company a fresh 25-year franchise.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block ABS-CBN's franchise renewal after accusing the network of not airing his campaign ads during the 2016 elections.