ABS-CBN's boss says sorry to Duterte for not airing some ads for 2016 polls: We are sorry if we offended the President

ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo L. Katigbak appears during a Senate hearing / photo by ABC CBN News

ABS-CBN President Carlo Katigbak has publicly apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday for failing to air the P7 M worth of political ads back in 2016 presidential elections.

Katigbak also denied the allegations that the network is bias, saying ABS CBN  "does not and will not have its own political agenda."

The ABS CBN's boss made the statement during the Senate inquiry about the network's franchise renewal that is set to expire this March 2020.

"We acknowledge our shortcoming in our failure to release that refund in a timely manner," 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 regulations that surround the airing of political ads." he added

Katigbak also clarified the real reason why the network could not air the political advertisement that the president is complaining about.

"Our policy on all our ads is first-come, first-served. Many of these spots were ordered on May 3, and May 7 was the last day of the campaign period. There had been many previous telecast orders that came in ahead," the company executive said.

He also explained that ABS CBN could not find an airtime for Duterte's ads back then. Katigbak said that P4 million was refunded to the President, but returning the remaining P2.6 million got delayed, which the president's camp refused to accept.

Meanwhile, Senator Bong Go, the former aide of the President, also questioned ABS CBN why it agreed to air an opposition-funded video which was meant to tarnish the reputation of Duterte.

"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 to malign him," Go said

"For me, this is very troublesome. Media networks are supposed to be neutral. Fair reporting, that's all the President wants... Kung masama ka kay Pangulo, mas magiging masama siya sa iyo at kung mabait ka kay Pangulo, mas mabait siya sa iyo." he added

Katigbak then explained that the network initially refused to air the controversial video, but it got a clearance later on after some changes were made.

"Any politician who comes to our station with an ad that is legal and legitimate must be accommodated," Katigbak said

 "We continue to improve on our shortcomings. We hope we do a better job in the succeeding elections." he added

The House of Representatives has yet to hear at least 11 bills seeking to give the broadcast giant a fresh 25-year mandate, with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano saying the matter was "not urgent."

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