Press Release
February 24, 2020

Bong Go confronts ABS-CBN for airing 'black propaganda' against PRRD; network issues apology

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Monday, February 24, questioned ABS-CBN's intentions when the broadcasting network did not air during the 2016 campaign period some of the political ads paid for early by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, but aired a political ad against him close to the date of the presidential elections.

In response to the Senator's statement, ABS-CBN President and Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak apologized to the President.

"Sa kasagsagan ng election season ay hindi na-ere ang ilang ads ng ating Pangulo. Alam din po ng karamihan ang tungkol sa isang video--a video which was obviously meant to malign then presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte--for the purpose of destroying his reputation and turning the tide against his overwhelming popularity during that time," Go said at the public hearing jointly conducted by the Senate Committees on Public Services; Economic Affairs; and Finance.

Go played the ad and said, "Paano ito naging political ad? Are you promoting a candidate here or are you destroying a candidate?"

He added, "Airing the black propaganda video appeared to be more important than earning income from airing legitimate ads that have already been paid for. The non-airing of ads already paid for, and the subsequent airing of ads for the purpose of maligning a person, display an intent to oppose a particular candidate."

The Senator further explained, "The RTC (Regional Trial Court) which granted the TRO (temporary restraining order) even pointed out that the propaganda video shows minors being used in black propaganda. Thus, as pointed out by the court, the ad must be suppressed at once, as repeated broadcasting of the same will be irreparably inimical to the children's welfare and interest."

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 the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads."

He explained that the network was not able to air the ads due to limited airtime for advertisements in local stations and admitted that the network was not able to give the President the proper refund on time.

"Doon po sa local ads nagkaproblema talaga kami because we only have two minutes of airtime per hour," Katigbak said.

He added, "Of the P7 million (worth of) ads na hindi namin naere, we were able to refund approximately P4 million to the President, and that was accepted. We were delayed in refunding the P2.6 million, which Senator Go flashed on the screen, and that P2.6 million was no longer accepted by the President.

"On this issue, we acknowledge our shortcoming in our failure to release the refund in a timely manner, and we corrected that so that in 2019, our policy is seven days. If your spot is not aired, the check should be back with the client or with the advertiser within seven days."

Go reminded ABS-CBN that "every grantee of a legislative franchise faces responsibilities imposed upon them."

He added, "In the case of the franchise grantee in question, the grantee is specifically required, among others, to provide at all times sound and balanced programming; conform to the ethics of honest enterprise; and not use its stations for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest.

"Our law also mandates our authorities to ensure that radio, television, or cable television broadcasting entities do not manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party. Moreover, our laws also require all members of media, television, radio or print, to scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth."

The Senator emphasized that the President's complaints against ABS-CBN are justified. "I would like to correct my fellow colleague in this chamber. 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 in trying to malign him."

He also called on Congress to review the process of granting legislative franchises to broadcasting entities. "This may be an opportunity to examine closely whether or not the provisions we introduce in our franchise laws are effective in imposing the high degree of responsibility incumbent upon grantees of broadcasting franchises," he said.

"Let us take this opportunity to ensure that the legislative franchises we grant, through the laws we enact, are geared towards the protection of public interest, and are not used to mislead or misinform the public," he added.

News Latest News Feed