ABS-CBN Corp. head honcho Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez and his strategists sorely underestimated Filipinos’ resentment of their oligarchic rule and their use of a news and entertainment behemoth for their own pecuniary and political ends.
Except for the usual Yellow and Red crowd — including that dual citizen that CNN fired who claimed that a “small administrative agency was ordered by Duterte to close down” the network of 11 million staff — there has hardly been any intelligent defense of ABS-CBN’s impending closure by respectable and rational commentators.
I find it significant that none of the regular columnists in mainstream media, except one crackpot at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, have gone to the network’s defense. Understandably so since they have been witnesses to how the Lopezes got what they wanted through all presidents since Corazon Aquino, with solely President Rodrigo Duterte now challenging their oligarchic rule.
I found it disgusting that when the Lopezes had to give up Meralco in 2009, because their entire empire was being brought down in the course of the global financial crisis that started in 2008, they handed it over to a foreign oligarch, the Indonesian Anthoni Salim who controls the Frist Pacific.
The oligarchs have assumed that Filipinos are so stupidly star-struck that they mobilized as their de facto spokesmen the network’s actors such as Coco Martin, Angel Locsin and of course Kim Chiu, whose totally inane statements about the “law in the classroom” have become the butt of scores of jokes and parodies in social media which have become viral.
In contrast to these actors’ attempt at tugging at Filipinos’ emotions, read the following letter emailed to me by a 72-year-old thinking citizen. I would have disclosed her name, but I had asked her permission for this, and unfortunately she hasn’t answered yet. I did google her to know more about her (as she suggested), and she is an authentic ordinary Filipino professional concerned about the future of the country.
Her letter is as follows:
“I am 72 years old turning 73 this year, and over the years, I remain one of those people who only watch on the sidelines, uncaring about issues in our country. Our family can be considered in the middle-income group and like many others pay our taxes religiously.
“The million dollar heist involving RCBC high-ranking officials was the start of my getting concerned about the apparent lack of government controls over big businesses in our country who can get away with many things. Not for lack of rules but of late, because of brilliant lawyers, corrupt officials find their way circumventing the laws of the land.
“With this Covid pandemic, I worry about the future of my children and grandchildren. At our age, we belong to the high-risk members of our society and just a single virus can put us down.
“This ABS-CBN debacle is one issue that has to be resolved in a very transparent manner. My questions are:
“1. How come the violations of ABS CBN regarding ownership, number of radio and television channels they are operating; illegal operation of cable network; numerous unresolved labor disputes and others, were not attended to way back in 2014?
“Question: What are the government agencies doing (NTC, SEC, Labor) regarding these concerns?
“2. I read all your articles on ABS-CBN. I also read the article of Mr. Jonathan de la Cruz “ABS-CBN Global Hungary Kft.” And “ABS-CBN circumvented ownership requirement — Enrile “ by Paolo Romero. (These articles are clear and I just hope that people who rant about curtailment of freedom of expression realize the reasons why the franchise is on hold.)
“Question: What is the government doing about these issues?
“3. If NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN. ANC is still operating and was never closed. DZMM was closed for a while but tonight, I saw that they are using the frequency via skype or whatever system but it seems that the frequency is very much at their disposal.
Why are they still on the air?
“4. How come the labor disputes are still pending at the Supreme Court and if we are to believe the recent postings in the internet, most of these cases were filed years ago. What happened? Is our justice system for the rich people only?
“I have nothing against any Establishment for as long as they do not interfere in politics and do not violate the law. In the case of ABS-CBN, they have a lot of explaining to do. I hope you will not be tired in following up this development. At the rate how ABS CBN operates, they want to put in government their anointed government official to follow their lead.
“I don’t know if you have information regarding what ABS owes the government, which was apparently written off. Or the real reason why they went after Estrada when he refused to grant the government guarantee for the Benpres (now Lopez Holdings Corp. –ed.) loan.
“By the way, I stopped watching or listening to local news because these so-called journalists are very obvious in their line of questioning. They are not for balanced reporting but for biased reporting depending on their political leanings. I also observed that most television shows only air television series that are not good for children, no more cultural or wholesome shows that can improve the everyday life of Filipinos. And this is what they call freedom of expression.
“I hope the government will not stop digging [into] these big corporations like [the] ownership of Smart Philippines, Meralco, PLDT, Maynilad. I don’t think this Pangilinan guy has the money to really own these companies. We might wake up one day and the entire Philippines is being run by outside forces. Very sad indeed.
“Sometimes, I get tired watching the show of force of most of the senators who are always grandstanding in their line of questioning. Most of them are just parroting questions already asked by others. Total waste of time.
“Thanks for reading my letter and please do reply if you receive the same. More power to you and I will pray for good health for you and your family. You can google me and you will find I assisted in some international publications on orthopedics.”
Senators and congressmen, listen to the people!