13 senators lead pack in inane arguments for ABS-CBN

ONE good thing a-bout this ABS-CBN issue is that it has starkly exposed the intellectual bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the diehard Yellow, anti-Duterte camp as well as their secret sympathizers who would jump to oppose every major move they think is the President’s against their allies.

Arguing for the oligarchic network: senators should join them.

At the head of this pack are the 13 hypocritical and mostly intellectually challenged senators who issued a Senate resolution on May 7 asking the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to allow ABS-CBN — and all its subsidiaries and affiliates — to reopen until its “franchise renewal.”

Sen. Franklin Drilon would get the award for intellectual honesty: he had told Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez 3rd several times when the Liberals were still in power to put aside his ego, talk to then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd and file ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application. Lopez didn’t.

The other four Yellow stragglers were among the 13 — Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Emmanuel Joel Villanueva and Leila de Lima. Senators Pangilinan, Ralph Recto and Juan Miguel Zubiri are close friends of top ABS-CBN honcho Gabby Lopez, and spent many weekends at “Kiko’s Farm” in Alfonso.  That’s how oligarchs work. Can’t they transcend purported friendship for the country’s sake?

I can’t fathom though why Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, who knew how ABS-CBN savaged her father during the last elections — who should therefore realize how much this oligarch can undermine democracy — signed the resolution.  Zubiri?  He said ABS-CBN should not be closed down as he watches ANC as soon as he wakes up.  Now I’m convinced Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao has had too many fists bang his head in 20 years. I shouldn’t even devote a sentence to Manuel “Lito” Lapid.

Arguments

I would have respected the opinion of these senators if they had advanced logical arguments for NTC not to have closed down ABS-CBN. But they are all hogwash.
One is that “there is a precedent for entities whose franchises have expired to be allowed to continue to operate, pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress.”

Is it too hard to understand that one pillar of the rule of law is the principle that a thief can’t plead innocence because there are many thieves who weren’t caught before him?
These 13 are also so intellectually dishonest as to claim that ABS-CBN should be allowed to operate without a franchise because the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Broadcast was allowed to operate for about a year even if it still didn’t have a franchise.

They are comparing a network devoted to religion, exhorting people not to sin, to ABS-CBN, owned by oligarchs and whose many shows exhort viewers to sin? They pretend that they aren’t aware what the CBCP is?

They seem to have not a clue that the granting of franchises, especially those given to broadcast media which utilize a state’s natural resource, its territory’s radio frequency waves, is not just a regulatory act, but more importantly a political act. A regime — by which I mean the executive and legislative branches — can decide for the sake of the country’s democracy, not to give a franchise to an oligarch. Haven’t  three congresses — 16th under Aquino, and 17th and 18th under President Rodrigo Duterte — already decided not to give ABS-CBN a franchise?

Episode

This episode again demonstrates how flawed our system of maintaining a Senate is, a body whose current members’ only real qualifications are such things as the money they can mobilize, even those raised through a religious cult; their wives’ celebrity status, that they have the same name as their fathers; and in the case of Drilon and Hontiveros, the huge election coffers and apparatus of the past regime.

With that kind of background, it is not surprising that their second argument is that we need “access to up-to-date news by a free and unfettered media” during this pandemic.

That’s really one of the most stupid defenses for ABS-CBN, echoed by the Yellow horde. It’s an opportunistic argument that exploits people’s fears of this pandemic. Their subliminal, immoral message: without ABS-CBN, you’d get sick of the coronavirus and die a horrible death.

Read all the arguments in mainstream and social media, and most are variants of these two claims, which assume that ABS-CBN is God’s gift to Philippine media, ignoring the fact that the Lopez media empire has been a kingmaker of all but one of our presidents, thereby undermining our democracy.

There is, of course, the appeal to emotion:  “Kawawa naman ABS-CBN employees, which Maria Ressa said total 11 million.”   Shouldn’t they blame the Lopezes, particularly Gabby Lopez, for putting his ego above the welfare of his employees, as I narrated in my column last Wednesday? This certainly won’t be the first time that a company is closed by government because it violated our laws. Remember Banco Filipino?

What I find hilarious, though, are some nutty arguments to defend ABS-CBN by commentators who have to scrape the bottom of their small minds  to come up with ideas just because they hate Duterte.

Here’s one from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which lives up to the column’s title as full of fleas: “If you believe in the argument that ABS-CBN cannot continue to operate when its franchise expired, you should imagine waking up one morning with no water and electricity in your house. That’s because the two utility companies were ordered to immediately stop because their franchises had expired and their applications for renewal were negligently delayed by government.”

ABS-CBN’s Vice Ganda shows  are as vital as water and electricity?

Bayanihan

Another: the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act gives Duterte the authority to “move statutory deadlines and timelines for the filing and submission of any document, the payment of taxes, fees and other charges required by law.” Moving ABS-CBN’s closure is as perfunctory as moving the deadline for the April 15 income tax filing? And in the first place, why on earth would Duterte use that discretionary power? Is he crazy?

This ABS-CBN issue was settled seven years ago in the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision on the Associated Communications vs National Telecommunications Commission (GR 144109). No franchise, no operation.

Legal luminaries like former chief justice Reynato Puno, former justice Noel Tijam, San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino,  former justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez — why even the anti-Duterte former senior associate justice Antonio Carpio — have all opined that the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. cannot be extended without a franchise.

Didn’t you notice almost all of the columnists in mainstream newspapers, except for the two crackpots I cited above, have either been just quiet about it even if they are anti-Duterte?

And on the other side, the Reds raising again their defend-press-freedom placards and ABS-CBN’s mobilizing its  talents for the debate, one crying, another dancing, Coco Martin threatening — do you think these were spontaeneous?

The Lopezes do think Filipinos are stupid, don’t they?

There wouldn’t be all this brouhaha over ABS-CBN if not for the fact that the Yellows and the Reds are fighting for their major weapon for overthrowing Duterte, and that they believe this is his decisive battle, which if he loses it, will lead to his downfall.


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