(Bloomberg) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continued his attacks on a local television network he’s accused in the past of bias, and urged owners of ABS-CBN Corp. to sell before its franchise expires in March.
In a televised speech delivered in the local language at Davao City on Monday, Duterte suggested the media firm’s franchise renewal is uncertain. He had earlier threatened to block the network’s bid to extend the franchise for 25 years.
“Your contract is expiring. I’m not sure what will happen if you renew,” he said. “If I were you, I would just sell.”
Duterte has accused ABS-CBN as well as privately-owned Philippine Daily Inquirer of unfair reporting, allegations that the media companies have denied. The president’s criticisms of ABS-CBN pushed its share price to a decade low earlier this month. The stock ended 2019 with a 21% loss compared with the local benchmark index’s 4.7% gain for the year.
Duterte also resumed his criticism of water utilities for alleged corruption, threatening to arrest and jail the owners of Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. He reiterated a plan for a military takeover of the operations.
Manila Water of Ayala Corp. and Maynilad owners Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. are among the worst-performing Philippine stocks this year, plunging since early December when Duterte started his censure.
“For those of you asking where are the big fish in my fight against corruption, I’ll deliver them: Ayala and Pangilinan,” he said. “If they do something wrong, I’ll really jail them,” Duterte said, referring to the family of Jaime Augusto Zobel, which owns Manila Water and Manuel Pangilinan, who chairs Metro Pacific.
The two tycoons didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.
Manila Water plunged 63% this year despite a rebound in the final week of trading ending Dec. 27. Metro Pacific was down 25%, while DMCI tumbled 48%.
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