Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque responded to Coco Martin’s tirades against the government, saying that the actor was wrong to compare the ABS-CBN shutdown with the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operations.
On May 5, ABS-CBN was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to halt its free-to-air TV and radio broadcast operations a day after its 25-year congressional franchise expired.
Coco, who has been venting his frustration over NTC’s move on social media, lashed out at the government in a Facebook Live session on Friday for forcing a network that’s been extending help to Filipino communities during the pandemic to go off air, while allowing POGOs to operate in the country.
Earlier this month, the government has allowed partial resumption of POGO operations amid the lockdown.
“Ano ang uunahin natin ngayon? Tanggalin ang kompanya na tumutulong sa ating kapwa, sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, o ’yung sugal na pinapasok sa ating bansa? Buti pa ’yung POGO, pinaglalaban niyo. Itong kompanyang tumutulong sa lahat ng mga tao ngayon, pinasara niyo,” said Coco.
The Ang Probinisyano star also lambasted Roque’s remark that affected employees of the embattled media giant can ask assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment.
Roque in a PTV interview on Saturday said that while it is okay for the Kapamilya star to freely voice out his opinions, he thinks that the comparison is incorrect.
“Well, alam niyo po, ‘yan naman po ay nagpapatunay na buhay ang demokrasya sa Pilipinas. Merong malayang pananalita at wala pong sumusupil sa kalayaan ni Coco Martin na magsalita,” said Roque.
“Pero parang ‘di tama yung comparison between ABS-CBN and ang mga POGO dahil unlike yung mga broadcast companies, wala pong probisyon sa saligang batas kung sinong pupwede magbibay ng authority para mag-operate ang POGO,” he said.
Roque said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has authority over POGOs, while congress has exclusive power to grant franchises to broadcasting companies.
“Ang POGO po, tanging PAGCOR lang ang pwedeng magbigay ng desisyon kung sila’y pwedeng mag-operate. Samantalang ang broadcast company po, tanging Kongreso lang po ang may ganyang kapangyarihan.”