What now, Senate?

February 24, 2020

DESPITE “warning” from House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that the Senate would be holding an “illegal hearing” (and therefore, “unconstitutional”) as regards the pending franchise bills of private media company, ABS-CBN, the Upper Chamber went ahead with it yesterday.

And the “statesmen” (and women) that they claim to be, our senators, led by the flagrantly biased, Sen. Grace Poe, the Upper Chamber brushed off Speaker Alan’s warning by mainly stating, “and why not,” when the Senate also used to “deliberate” on pending tax measures, the national budget included, even if the House is yet to finish deliberating on them.

Under the Constitution, all bills relating to taxes and the national budget must of course also emanate from the House first before the Senate can act on them and with this as their “point of comparison,” our senators had their point there.

We are no constitutional expert, either, dear readers, but for yours truly, “something is very wrong,” indeed, when our legislators start to equate the interest of a private company (ABS-CBN franchise) with that of the public (the issue of taxes).

Translation? Kailan ba naging “kapantay” ng interes ng publiko ang interes ng isang pribadong kumpanya?

***

As the Senate started its “sympathy hearing” yesterday on behalf of the senators’ “benefactor” in the ranks of our nation’s oligarchs, one can only described as “impeccable timing” the column, also yesterday, of highly-respected Rigoberto Tiglao at the Manila Times.

His revelation— that Mr. Gabby Lopez is all along an AMERICAN CITIZEN when he got back to running ABS-CBN in 1986– is not only shocking but at the same time also revolting to all decent and law-abiding Filipinos.

And why not? In 1986, at great risk to their lives and limbs— and with thousands dead or in prison in the fight to “restore democracy— majority of Filipinos had just succeeded in removing a “dictator” and are then looking forward for “better times ahead” and a “bright future.”

If we look back to those times too, a constitutional commission was drafting the 1987 Constitution to further “strengthen” our democracy and in its final form, it strictly prohibited the management and ownership of media companies from foreigners. They must be Filipino-owned (and managed) one hundred percent. Period.

And no one can say that the Lopezes were “dumb” not to know this and yet, did they comply? No.  

They simply ran roughshod of the Constitution, the same Constitution they and their supporters are now claiming to being violated by the government.

***

It could be that Mr. Lopez is now also a “Filipino citizen”— the evidence must be presented now— but this can never hide or erase the fact that for three decades, at least, he made a fool of everyone and everything— the Congress, the Senate, the Constitution and yes, Jose, even those lawmakers stridently defending its private interests even at the risk of being called a “tuta” of the elite to their faces.

And as I never doubted any of the expose of Bobbi Tiglao, the question to be asked as the Upper Chamber callously discussed the ABS-CBN franchise is, “what now, Senate, what now, Sen. Grace?”

Can you stomach the fact that from the very start, the Lopezes have insulted Congress and yes, the “rule of law” that you so loved to mouth given any opportunity?

***

This festering issue of ABS-CBN franchise renewal has succeeded in dividing the entire media community, with the noisiest branch crying ‘death to press freedom’ (as always).

Indeed, I am both amused and saddened that many of those I called ‘friends’ have resorted to name-calling especially since the National Press Club (NPC) remains the only national media organization that has remained balanced, sober and consistent in its appraisal of the current media situation.

But here’s hoping that Bobbi Tiglao’s column yesterday would somehow also “inject” the needed insight among all of us if this issue is to be put in its proper perspective.

Translation? “Sino” ngayon ang tama ang posisyon (ulit) sa usaping ito, aber, hehehe!