Please allow family ‘reunions,’ Mr. President

ABS-CBN Corp. once a-gainst demonstrated its combativeness against President Rodrigo Duterte — a portent of things to come if it gets to open again — when it very pettily picked on his trip to his hometown Davao City last week, claiming that he was violating the quarantine rules that his own government has instituted. It was only ABS-CBN that tried to make an issue of Duterte’s Davao trip.

How vicious or dumb these people can be. He is the President for chrissake, and he is free to go around everywhere in the republic he heads when he wants for whatever reason.

But Duterte’s trip actually highlights his humanity, with  his Presidential Security Group chief Col. Jesus Durante 3rd remarking: “He is in Davao after more than two months of not being able to see his family.”

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Pandemic reveals two most inutile institutions in this land

THE coronavirus pandemic, the most serious global and domestic crisis since World War 2 — even worse than that conflagration if a vaccine isn’t discovered soon — has exposed what the two most inutile institutions in our nation are. Probably also in most parts of the planet.

These are the Catholic Church and the Congress. Each has similar sized work forces (9,000 for the Church, 8,000 for Congress) with a budget of P3 billion*  annually. Yet probably 95 percent of these have mostly been twiddling their thumbs since this crisis broke out in early February.

Yes, a number of Church entities have provided accommodation to stranded workers and frontliners and given food to the needy.

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They underestimated Filipinos’ disgust vs ABS-CBN oligarchs

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.

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Cayetano to the rescue of media oligarch

DEFYING President Rodrigo Duterte to whom he owes his speakership post, House Speaker Allan Cayetano the other day mounted a last-ditch effort to rescue the oligarch-controlled ABS-CBN Corp. media behemoth from the dustbin of history.

The lady doth protest too much: Cayetano throws lifeline to ABS-CBN. Screengrab from ANC
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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.
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Noynoy-Gabby battle of egos was what did ABS-CBN in

Blame these would-be alpha males, not Duterte
IT was the battle of superegos — that of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd and ABS-CBN Corp. top honcho Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez 3rd — that led to the closure of the broadcast network last May 4.

The pissing contest* between the two alpha males was triggered, ironically, at the network’s top rated news show TV Patrol’s 25th anniversary on July 28, 2012. The speaker was Aquino, who felt himself at the time to be the most powerful president ever, having taken out the previous May Chief Justice Renato Corona and discovering the huge cache of funds with which to bribe anyone he wanted, euphemistically termed the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Gabby and ABS-CBN’s celebrities were there, expecting Aquino to congratulate them in so many words for helping him successfully remove Corona, and to thank them that without them he would not have been president.

The last time they talked (at TV Patrol’s 25th anniversary in 2012)
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ABS-CBN closure will strengthen our democracy

THE ABS-CBN media behemoth is an anomaly that has made a mockery of our democracy. This started in the late 1950s, when the landlord oligarch clan, the Lopezes, added to their empire what was then a new medium, television, which proved to be more powerful in reaching the masses than their Manila Chronicle newspaper.

We are the only country in Asia to have such a powerful oligarch as the dominant player in broadcast media, the most effective venue in the modern era for molding the masses’ political consciousness and choices.

Japan has the mammoth NHK, South Korea’s three major network are either government-run or funded, and Singapore’s broadcast and print media are subsidiaries of the government investment fund Temasek Holdings.

Here we have an oligarch clan (in ABS-CBN Corp.), a triumvirate of magnates in another (GMA7) and a foreign tycoon (Indonesian Salim in TV5).

Worse for our democracy, the Lopezes weren’t just ordinary oligarchs. They owned for many decades the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the monopoly electricity distributor in Metro Manila, whose fortunes were 100 percent dependent on government regulations.

When they were friends: Lopez patriarchs Eugenio and Fernando at the former’s 68th birthday party in 1969.
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Astonishing inanities on the ABS-CBN franchise issue

I CAN’T believe the astonishing inanities being spewed out by leaders of Congress claiming that ABS-CBN can operate even if its franchise expired on Monday. But these politicians are smart, or they won’t be in their posts.

Are their statements merely the kind of boladas cunning lawyers tell a client with a hopeless case, just to keep their PFs?

House Committee on Legislative Franchises Chairman Franz Alvarez on Monday insisted that only Congress could “grant, deny, extend, revoke or modify broadcast franchises.”

Referring to the resolution issued on March 10 by the Committee on Legislative Franchises that he heads, Alvarez said: “With the authority given by the House of Representatives, there is no reason for ABS-CBN to discontinue or stop their operations.” His vice chairman, Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano, echoed that view, pointing out that Congress has the “exclusive right and jurisdiction on legislative franchises.”

ABS-CBN champion: Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez
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‘Five things Duterte got right’

“FIRST, President Duterte has been frank about the true extent of the crisis, making it clear that unless we have a reliable, mass-produced vaccine, there is no return to “normal”: “Ang Covid hindi matatapos ‘yan. It will be here; it will stay until kingdom come pero kung may bakuna na, baka sakaling mauna tayo.’

“Second, Mr. Duterte has shown the political will to extend a difficult and economically devastating lockdown in order to protect public health. This stands in stark contrast to Trump’s itch to restart the American economic engine.

“Third, the President has shown a growing spirit of collaboration with scientists, most notable during his recent dialogue with former health secretaries, including at least one from the opposition.

“Fourth, while Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been busy firing competent officials, Mr. Duterte has recruited competent and young technocrats to assist his ongoing efforts, such as Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and new [Acting] Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua.

“And finally, the President, in a rare sign of national unity, has rightly shown due respect and appreciation for Vice President Leni Robredo. There is so much room for improvement, but there is also reason to hope.”

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A reader lives a thousand lives

That most memorable quote spoken by Jojen in George R.R. Martin’s hit series A Game of Thrones in its entirety: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Jojen was the powerful and natural-born “greenseer”, and could receive glimpses of the past, present and future in visions.

You’d be lucky and happy if you’re a reader, cooped up in one place for more than six weeks since the lockdown started. If you’re a reader, you would be living not in just one place, but in a thousand places. You could be roaming the earth, conversing with a thousand people. Of course that’s an exaggeration and in the past six weeks, I probably have been living only in a handful of places and conversing with about a dozen people.

Martin’s quote most probably was inspired by Joyce Carol Oates: “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

It’s not always fun, of course: after reading about 50 pages of Viet Than Nguyen’s best-selling The Sympathizer, I felt claustrophobic as if I — or rather the narrator, a young Vietnamese fleeing the fall of Saigon with his family — was still in that goddamn, crowded airport full of panicking, fleeing pro-United States sympathizers.

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