With ABS-CBN Corp.’s closure, the republic — its executive and legislative branches, to be joined soon by the judicial branch, I would bet — will be hitting two birds with one stone.
First, it will disarm of its most potent weapon, the Lopez oligarch clan, which has been a kingmaker of presidents, incurred massive debts from government financial institutions, and influenced government policies and actions for their benefit throughout our nation’s modern history.
The end of ABS-CBN will thus strengthen our democracy and help develop our nation into a strong state, independent of oligarchs.
Second, it will confiscate from the communists who have vowed to topple our democracy, its most effective propaganda venue, whose radio stations can reach even the remotest corners of the nation.
It is not surprising that the CPP itself, its NPA armed wing and many of its overt and covert mass organizations have deliriously railed against ABS-CBN’s closure, campaigning feverishly that it be allowed to resume operations. A few examples:
– CPP statement, headline May 6 (the day after NTC orders it to shut down as its franchise expired May 4): “Condemn Duterte fascist regime for closure of ABS-CBN.”
– NPA, May 9 headline: “Dapat isatelebisyon ang rebolusyon, ibalik sa ere ang ABS-CBN!” First paragraph: “Lubos na nakikiisa ang Apolonio Mendoza Command-New People’s Army Quezon at buong rebolusyunaryong kilusan sa lalawigan sa laban ng ABS-CBN.”
– Kabataang Makabayan/National Democratic Front, May 9 headline: “Silencing the press is a recipe for dictatorial rule.” First paragraph: “The forced shutdown of ABS-CBN’s television broadcast services does not only undermine the rights of media practitioners and journalists in the country, but also puts the Filipino masses at an even more difficult position especially amid the ongoing pandemic.”
– Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, May 10: “NTF-ELCAC*, parang asong ulol na pinakawalan ng rehimeng US-Duterte, desperadong tuluyang alisin sa ere ang ABS-CBN.”
– Ang Bayan (official newspaper of the CPP), May 7: “Marco Valbuena, chief information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said that Duterte is behind the network’s closure. ‘Like a king, Duterte is using his tyrannical power to realize his whims. He wants all big businesses to bow down and pay homage to him,’ said Valbuena.”
The communist movement here would be the first ever in history and in the world to defend the closure of a capitalist corporation, to wit one owned by an oligarchy that originated from the most ruthless type of landlordism — sugar plantations — in the country.
The CPP’s delirious ranting against the network’s end reveals the utter bankruptcy and political opportunism of this organization that pretends to be revolutionary. Why would communists, whose main dogma is about class struggle against the ruling classes, support the worst of the capitalist elite: the oligarch?
There are two explanations why the ABS-CBN network has endeared itself to the communists. The first involves that phenomenon in media organizations by which its journalists tend to embrace the political views of its owners — or else they get themselves fired, or fail to go up the corporate ladder, sooner or later.
The Lopezes, together with the Aquino-Cojuangco clan, have viewed the CPP and its armed group, the NPA, before and during martial law as allies in their fight against the Marcos dictatorship. After martial law, the Lopezes have continued to view the communists still as crusaders for human rights and during Duterte administration, its allies against it. Its journalists have romanticized the NPA terrorists as self-sacrificing patriots.
A second explanation for the communists’ fury against ABS-CBN’s closure is that they have been able to utilize its TV and radio broadcasts, even its internet news site, News.abs-cbn.com, as their nationwide propaganda and communications venue. CPP statements on issues of the day and those of its spokesmen are reported verbatim.
I handled the communications organization of the Arroyo presidency in the early 2000s, at a time when she was wooing the Lopezes to be her allies. Military intelligence urged me to convince Arroyo to tell the Lopezes to rid its ranks of suspected CPP cadres and sympathizers at ABS-CBN. That was of course not done.
Military intelligence was especially worried over reports it was getting from its field offices that ABS-CBN “correspondents” in insurgency hotspots were either members of the CPP or sympathizers who often presented the rebels’ views more than that of the military. Worse, military intelligence claimed that ABS-CBN correspondents then wittingly or unwittingly revealed the Army’s plans and strengths to the NPA units in the area.
I wouldn’t know if that’s still the case. But I remembered that claim of the military when I found that one of the furious statements against ABS-CBN’s closure was issued by “the editorial staff of Ang Paghimakas” the official publication of the CPP organization in Negros island.
The NPA statement demanding that “the revolution must be televised” came from the “Apolonio Mendoza Command” based in Quezon province. Do those guys have ABS-CBN’s TVplus black boxes in their camps in the Sierra Madre mountains? Could that be the reason why ABS-CBN boldly sold those boxes even if it did not have authority to do so?
Why would such province-level CPP units be so angry at the closure of ABS-CBN if they weren’t very happy with the network’s coverage of the insurgency in their areas, or maybe even had them as its staff’s buddies?
“Isatelebsiyon ang rebolusyon!” the NPA statement demanded. That seemed funny to me at first, with images of Vice Ganda playing inane games with an NPA flashing in my mind.
But come to think of it, has ABS-CBN been televising the communist insurgency since 1986?
*NTF-Elcac stands for the inter-agency National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which has been posting gains in its whole-of-country approach to wipe out the communists.
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