Senate hearing on ABS-CBN an ‘award-winning’ production

IF you watched the Senate committee hearing the other day on ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise application that was called by Sen. Mary Grace Poe, you’ll be as convinced as I was that it was a production mounted by the media giant; so expertly done that if it had been a movie, it would have been an award-winner.

It was, however, one of the clearest demonstrations I’ve ever seen of an oligarch at work and why oligarchs are oligarchs: they can expertly use the institutions and leaders of the State, and cloak their agenda of perpetuating their rule as economic elites.

The quality the hearing shares with ABS-CBN’s telenovelas is that it has no existence in the real world. Hold marathon hearings as much as Poe can call, the Senate has no business tackling ABS-CBN’s franchise application at this time.

Going by the Constitution, it is the House of Representatives that first has to pass a bill to give a company the franchise to use the state-owned radio spectrum frequencies and only after the Senate deliberated on it — whether to pass it for the President’s signature, reject it or return to the House for any changes it wants done.

The Lopez oligarchs who own ABS-CBN, Poe and the Yellow senators may gloat over the propaganda success of their production, but it could be the kiss of death for the network’s application for a franchise. The House will certainly not let pass the Senate’s grandstanding on this issue and extract vengeance by just sitting on the application. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

ABS-CBN’s head honcho Gabby Lopez is a US citizen

EUGENIO “Gabby” La’O Lopez 3rd — who has, since, 1987, run media giant ABS-CBN Corp., of which he is a major owner — is a United States citizen.

He travels the world using his American passport, the current one issued by the Los Angeles Passport Agency, sources with access to US and Philippine government records disclosed.

This is a patent violation of our Constitution’s Article XVI, Section 11 (1): “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

This means ABS-CBN has been violating the 1995 law to operate broadcast media, whose very first sentence states that the franchise is “subject to the provisions of the Constitution.”

Congress would shame itself if it renews the franchise of a company that has trampled on our Constitution, its owners managing to hide Lopez’s citizenship because of its power over past administrations.

Lopez acquired Philippine citizenship only in 2004, a year after the Dual Citizenship Law took effect. This law allowed natural-born Filipinos who acquired citizenship in another country to acquire Philippine citizenship after a process specified by the law.

The media behemoth’s top man and major stockholder: An American

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Yellows’ fake ‘defense expert’ calls military idiots, predicts coups vs Duterte

WHAT a gullible media we have.

Since 2016, one Jose Antonio Custodio has been interviewed by so many media outlets ranting against President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and the military. He recently declared that the military would soon topple Duterte, angry at the latter’s termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

He said that before in 2016, when charges were filed against Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th.

Mainstream media — among them the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine Star, GMA 7, ABS-CBN and the Salim-controled network TV5 — describe Custodio as a “military expert,” “military historian” or a “defense analyst.” He’s been such a regular source of media men’s “analysis” that he complained in his Facebook (FB) account that he was starting to dislike early morning calls from the press.

He doesn’t hide his arrogance and odium for the military, writing on FB: “I just love the idiocy in the Philippine military and Defense sector. So, you want to have a status of forces agreement with China to replace the PH-US VFA?”

Expert maybe, but on other things. FROM JOSE ANTONIO CUSTODIO’S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Vice Ganda, Boy Abunda to convince Congress to give ABS-CBN franchise?

IT is the height of servility to an oligarch for Sen. Franklin Drilon and other Yellow legislators to be still trying to give ABS-CBN Corp. the franchise to operate in the weeks till March when its current permit, given in 1995 at the height of the Yellow Rule, expires.

For chrissakes, neither the Lopez brothers, who own the media network together with a US fund manager, nor the firm’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Martin “Mark” Lopez — the 42-year-old nephew of its top honcho Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez 3rd — have even appeared in public to argue why the firm should be given a franchise in the first place.

Are Drilon and his gang so afraid of these oligarchs they can’t call them to Congress to argue their case? Have they stooped so low as to be talking only to the network’s lower-ranking minions and, as I was told, female celebrities?

How cowardly — or arrogant — can a firm in deep trouble be? The ABS-CBN statement on the filing of the quo warranto case against it by Solicitor General Jose Calida wasn’t even signed by any of the company’s officials.

Why aren’t they talking? ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Eugenio ‘Gabby’ Lopez 3rd (left) and Chairman Martin ‘Mark’ Lopez. PHOTO ABS-CBN

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

The law and SC ruling are clear: No franchise for ABS-CBN, no broadcast

THE law passed by the 9th Congress in March 1995 that gave ABS-CBN the authority to operate as a TV and radio network is crystal clear: “The franchise shall be for a term of twenty-five years from the date of effectivity of this Act.”

Period. Absolutely nothing in that law (and in all franchises) has a qualification that when that 25-year period ends, ABS-CBN can still operate until the end of the current 18th Congress if there are pending bills to renew the franchise.

Only if the current Congress renews its franchise can ABS-CBN continue to operate, sources knowledgeable about this current issue explained. Without a franchise, all the frequencies automatically revert back to government, they said.

There is no provision in the law–which exists only in the imagination of a few members of Congress, amazingly even in the minds of Senate President Vicente Sotto and House Speaker Alan Cayetano — that says that ABS-CBN can operate without a franchise until the end of the current Congress if there are pending bills to give it such authority.

It is astonishing that with the tens of millions of pesos in research funds the two leaders of the two chambers of Congress have, they haven’t heard of nor read the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in the Associated Communications v. National Telecommunications Commission (GR 144109).

Don’t Sotto and Cayetano have access to the internet? The SC already ruled on the issue nearly two decades ago.

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

ABS-CBN tramples on the Constitution: 22% owned mainly by US and Singapore firms

First of a series
SOME 22 percent of the shares of media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corp., now worth at least P3.5 billion, are owned by foreign companies, mainly the Los Angeles-based, privately owned The Capital Group, one of the world’s largest investment management firms.

Together with several other foreign firms, including the United Kingdom’s Prudential Plc (through its Singapore firm), the United States company received P1.3 billion in income out of ABS-CBN’s profits from 2015 to last year, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports show.

This is a blatant violation of Section 11, Article XVI of our Constitution: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

This violation of the Constitution is one of the two main grounds that Solicitor General Jose Calida invoked in a request he made to the Supreme Court the other day to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise.

In a similar constitutional violation case that Calida brought against the online news source Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings, he asked the SEC to revoke the two firms’ license to operate as corporations. The SEC agreed with Calida; the two firms appealed the case to the Court of Appeals.

United States firm boasts of its ABSCBN investment in its website.

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Be very careful with lifestyle check campaigns, so vulnerable to extortion

A RIGHTEOUS campaign it might seem, but the kind of lifestyle checks announced the other day by Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Manny Luna is itself so vulnerable to corruption that President Duterte should ask one of his most trusted officials to monitor this campaign very closely.

As reported in this newspaper, Luna said the PACC was undertaking lifestyle checks on over 400 “officials and employees” of government agencies such as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs (BoC) and Bureau of Immigration.

Lifestyle checks or investigations into the net worth and assets of over 400 officials — to check if these are commensurate with their incomes — make up a gargantuan task that is way, way beyond the resources of this tiny, nearly token anti-corruption entity. I don’t think Luna knows what he is talking about. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Yellows’ disgusting anti-Chinese racism in the midst of a global health crisis

IT is so disgusting that at this time when we humans feel a sense of solidarity in the face of a serious threat to all of our species, the Yellows have demonstrated such anti-China racism at its most sickening level.

Exhibit A here is a column published the other day in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, or PDI, by somebody I was told is a frustrated ex-nun, who has been a personification of the Yellow mind: rabidly anti-Duterte and anti-Marcos, a self-styled defender of the Roman Catholic Church who reeks of religiosity, self-appointed guardian of human rights and, of course, pro-American.

Her column’s title, which I never thought a decent broadsheet would ever publish: “7 ‘deadly plagues’ from China.”

What did she want to tell her readers? That the 2019 novel coronavirus is one of seven plagues China has deliberately brought on the Philippines, and soon on all mankind? Worried that her readers might not get the gravity of her assessment, she herself wrote: “‘Seven plagues’ has a biblical, apocalyptic ring to it. I am not being whimsical or facetious. The words also serve as a wake-up call.”

It is certainly shocking — or maybe not — how a supposedly religious person, purportedly an activist for noble causes would condemn a nation of 1.4 billion souls, whose nearly 30,000 people are afflicted, with and over 500 killed by the disease and about 61 million of banned from going out of their homes. Has racism and opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte steeled her heart so much, she cannot even write a sympathetic word for her fellow human beings?

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Indonesian-controlled newspaper’s alarmist coronavirus coverage

THIS certainly is another case that proves the wisdom of the Constitution’s framers when they banned the slightest foreign participation in media.

The Philippine Star, ultimately controlled by Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim through PLDT Inc., last Monday had a banner headline that shocked many: “PH nCoV patients jump to 80.”

That is so patently false: we have had only two 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) cases so far, both involving two Chinese who came from Wuhan, one of whom died the other day. The Health department’s latest official bulletin reports that only 48 individuals are being monitored to determine if they have been infected with the virus.

There is no way for anyone, journalistically or linguistically, to claim that even just these 48 persons are “nCoV patients.” They are not patients. Period. The dictionary definition of a “patient,” as any English-speaking person knows, is a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment for a disease. But these 48 haven’t been infected with the virus, they haven’t received treatment for anything.

The Philippine Star itself revealed its stupidity — or nefarious intention to disseminate fake, alarmist news — when it reported that out of these 80 supposed nCoV patients, there were “74 who may have come into contact with the victim.” Some 66 have been advised to “undergo home quarantine for 14 days,” while eight are “people under investigation.”

Nope, only two infected so far.

Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

A sober, fact-based piece on the coronavirus threat

THANK God for social media, or I wouldn’t have chanced upon the following sober, knowledgeable and concise piece posted in Facebook on the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat,.

Well-researched and written, it beats any article or bulletin here and abroad I’ve read in informing the layman what the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus is, and the threat it poses. It’s not that usual for a busy physician to write on a scientific topic that makes it understandable and concise enough for a busy layman.

The author is Bien Manlutac, an internist at prestigious hospitals in Manila. He should be the next health secretary.

Because of the topic’s extreme relevance at this time I am devoting this column’s space to his Facebook piece, which was entitled, “Should we push the panic button on the 2019-nCoV threat in the Philippines?” Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns