Philippines’ Duterte tells troubled media conglomerate owners to sell out

Philippines’ Duterte tells troubled media conglomerate owners to sell out
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends a plenary session at a regional summit in Bangkok, Thailand. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 30 December 2019

Philippines’ Duterte tells troubled media conglomerate owners to sell out

Philippines’ Duterte tells troubled media conglomerate owners to sell out
  • The mercurial leader has a rocky relationship with the media, especially with those critical of his bloody anti-narcotics campaign
  • ABS-CBN is the country’s largest media conglomerate with dozens of local and national radio and television stations covering news, entertainment and public affairs

MANILA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told owners of a media conglomerate that has drawn his ire to sell the company ahead of the network’s franchise expiry.
The mercurial leader has a rocky relationship with the media, especially with those critical of his bloody anti-narcotics campaign, and he has threatened numerous times to block the franchise extension of ABS-CBN Corp.
“This ABS, your contract will expire, and you try to renew. I don’t know what will happen to you,” Duterte said in a speech before earthquake victims in the southern province of North Cotabato.
The broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media conglomerate with dozens of local and national radio and television stations covering news, entertainment and public affairs, will expire in March 2020.
“If I were you, just sell it,” Duterte said of the network, which he had accused of not airing his paid advertisement during the presidential race in 2016.
A bill to extend its license is pending in congress, which is dominated by Duterte’s allies.
ABS-CBN did not immediately respond to request for comment on a public holiday.
Duterte, in numerous public speeches, has lashed out at the media, while his office has at times accused media companies of bias or distorting his statements.
The Philippine leader enjoys a high approval rating and is wildly popular on social media. His supporters, including bloggers, fiercely defend him and his policies, and have targeted journalists.


Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 37 min 17 sec ago

Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Reduction means the lowest level of US forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban
  • Taliban welcome the US move, describing it as important in the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in February

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan National Security Council said on Saturday that the reduction of US forces in the country has no major impact on the security situation, as Washington announced it had met its goal of decreasing the number of troops to 2,500.

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

The troop reduction means the lowest level of American forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996.

“The reduction or increase of the American forces does not have any major negative impact on the fighting situation in Afghanistan,” Maulvi Rahmatullah, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, said in a video response to the Pentagon announcement.

However, Afghanistan’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, said in a BBC interview on Friday that the “pullout risks more violence in the unstable country.”

He added that the American mission, which began 20 years ago, is not yet accomplished and that the US had made a mistake by conceding too much to the Taliban.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have welcomed the US move, describing it as an important step toward the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in Doha, Qatar, in February last year, under which all US-led troops would leave Afghanistan within 14 months.

“We consider the decision as a good and effective step toward the implementation of the Doha agreement. We, the Islamic Emirate, are also committed to all sections of the Doha agreement,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Arab News on Saturday.

He said the Taliban hoped that the Doha agreement would be fully implemented and all American forces would leave Afghanistan in the agreed timeframe.

“We consider withdrawal of the troops and leaving Afghan soil as a positive step for the people of the US and Afghans, and welcome it,” Mujahid said.

While acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller said on Friday that the US was planning “further reducing US troop levels to zero by May of 2021,” he added that “any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based.”

As the Trump administration ends its term when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday, there have been few clues about what the new US government plans are for Afghanistan.