The network found itself in the leader’s crosshairs first in 2016 when he claimed the network tried to sabotage his election by not airing his political ads in a timely manner and he later accused the network of “swindling” him out of his money. His ire for the station has grown as their coverage of his “war on drugs” and criticism of his comments urging citizens to vigilantism against alleged criminals.

Duterte has also essentially given police a license to kill suspected drug criminals by declaring he would pardon any officer convicted for murder of a criminal suspect. He has also issued death threats to reporters who challenge him. Yet, he denies having instructed his congressional allies to block ABS-CNS’s franchise renewal.

The president’s office claims he was just as surprised as anyone that the license was allowed to expire and that despite his past attacks on the station he has no beef with them. His spokesperson, Harry Roque, said the president does not oppose Congress renewing the franchise license. “He kept on reiterating in our conversation that he is neutral and to let his allies know that her will not hold it against them,” Roque said.

However, what Duterte says publicly and what he says behind closed doors may not necessarily line up. 

In the meantime, the cable news arm of ABS-CBN, ANC, operates under a separate license and is still on the air.

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