By William Casis

Senate Minority Leader Franklin on July 27 resented accusations against him by President Rodrigo Duterte that he was lawyering for the Lopezes, s of the media giant ABS-CBN which shut down its operation after failing to get a renewal of its 25-year franchise.

In taking the cudgels for ABS-CBN, Drilon stressed his primordial concern was the freedom of the press and the thousands of employees who would lose their jobs.

“The issue was freedom of the press. The Lopezes were  just incidental. And the issue was that nobody will lose their  jobs — the 11,000 employees of the ABS-CBN. That was what I fought for,” said Drilon.

Drilon also said his effort was not out of a sense of obligation. “ I have no debt to them. (We come from the same province) but other than that, we (are) not together.

He said he was just fighting for the right of the public especially now that there’s a need for more information from news outlets.

“And I believe that ABS-CBN is one of the media organization which can give us information on this. That was the context of my saying not to close ABS-CBN,” he said.

Reacting on the question of the President if it was a part of the team from  law firm ACCRA which helped the Lopez’s water concession enter into a contract with the government, Drilon strongly denied any involvement in this.

“With straight face, I can face the whole country and say, I have no involvement there. In fact, until now, I have not yet seen that contract.  I have nothing to do with it. I will repeatedly say that I have nothing to do with it. That’s the truth,” explained Drilon.

According to Drilon, he was no longer at ACRRA when the said Lopez contract with the government was signed.

The Senate leader said he had never been a lawyer for any contract which the Lopezes entered with the government.

At the start of his SONA, Duterte also took potshots at Drilon for pushing an Anti-Political Dynasty Law while citing his daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and her other children.