Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte had no hand in the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN, and reiterated that he would exert no influence on Congress’ decision on the TV network’s franchise.

“If he could, he would have done something,” Roque said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Karen Davila.

Roque explained that NTC, a regulatory body, made its own decisions and functioned in a quasi-judicial capacity.

Even the parent agency, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, could not have intervened, he said.

He added that Duterte’s only request to the House of Representatives was to “go and vote as you wish” regarding ABS-CBN’s application to renew its franchise, which expired on May 4.

“We’re trying to influence the House of Representatives by reiterating that the president is neutral. It’s all the help we could do,” the spokesman said.

Roque said Duterte was “thankful” for ABS-CBN’s service in informing the nation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and did not expect NTC to issue the cease-and-desist order.

ABS-CBN went off-air Tuesday night following the NTC order, which was widely condemned by lawmakers and media freedom advocates.