COLEGIO de San Juan de Letran-Manila on Monday released a statement of support to media conglomerate ABS-CBN, which is facing the threat of closure.

“We offer you our constant heart-felt prayers, pleading for God’s grace in order to stand fast and firm, to serve the cause of freedom and rights, to speak truth to power, to seek and secure the greater good,” the Dominican-run institution said in a statement posted on its social media accounts.

Congress is stalling on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s 25-year broadcast license, which expires on May 4. Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier this month filed a case before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN, accusing the network of violating the terms of its franchise.

ABS-CBN has denied Calida’s accusations, namely that it had circumvented the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in mass media, illegally charged customers for a digital channel, and illegally acquired a separate franchise for a mobile phone service.

Letran, which is marking its quadricentennial this year, expressed hope for a “righteous and fair” result, one that is not “withheld by gripe and  grudges” and grounded with the interest of Filipinos.

The University released a statement expressing its support for the network last week. Journalism faculty members also released a statement criticizing Calida’s petition and calling on Congress to approve a new franchise for ABS-CBN.

In a Senate hearing last Monday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) said the network did not violate any laws. The BIR said ABS-CBN regularly paid its taxes, while the SEC said the network did not violate any corporate laws in issuing investment instruments called Philippine Depositary Receipts that entitled holders to dividends or a share in profits, but not ownership or management rights.

On Wednesday night, President Rodrigo Duterte distance himself from Calida’s petition and said the decision to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise rested with Congress.

But he admitted it would be a “difficult decision” for him to sign a new franchise for the network if it landed on his desk for approval.

Duterte had expressed anger over ABS-CBN’s non-airing of his 2016 campaign ad in response to an opposition ad showing children reacting to clips of the former mayor speaking foul language.

The president on Wednesday accepted an apology from ABS-CBN President Carlo Katigbak over the ad row. 


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