By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Jire Carreon/ABS-CBN News/The Guardian

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte admitted on Monday that "presidential powers" have been used to shut down media giant ABS-CBN, contradicting previous statements that described his neutrality over issues hounding the network.

In his speech during the oath-taking of his son and newly-elected Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, he insisted that ABS-CBN “never paid taxes” despite clearance from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the network had been settled with their balances.

"I used the presidential powers to tell Congress that you are dealing with scoundrels, and if you continue to kowtow with them, kawawa ang Pilipino," Duterte said.

He added: “Kaya tinira ko talaga sila.”

Last May 2020, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order causing ABS-CBN to go off air as its franchise reached its validity.

Moreover, in July of the same year, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises thumbed down the network’s bid for a fresh 25-year franchise that retrenched thousands of its workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics and media workers have called this move a “chilling effect” on press freedom.

The rejection of the franchise came after an issue of then-presidential candidate Duterte criticized the commercial that aired on the network, which questioned whether a cursing and a tough-talking politician is fit to sit in the highest position in the country.

The network has also been releasing commentaries and reports of the administration’s bloody anti-illegal drug campaign, which has had thousands of casualties.