The ABS-CBN 13

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag - The Freeman

Thirteen senators, probably seeking to ingratiate themselves to ABS-CBN, have filed a shamelessly kiss-ass bill seeking to surreptitiously add two free years to the 25-year franchise renewal the network is seeking. The 13 senators are Ralph Recto, Migs Zubiri, Frankln Drilon, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Kiko Pangilinan, Bong Revilla and Joel Villanueva.

Remember their names because they are trying to hoodwink us. Their bill seeks to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN to operate until June 30, 2022 to give Congress ample time kuno to deliberate the network's application for franchise renewal. Did you get their trick or did you miss it? Take a look again at the provisional authority they seek. It is up to June 30, 2022. Yes, sir. Not this June 30, 2020 but June 30, 2022.

June 30, 2022 is exactly when President Duterte steps down. That is the end of his term. That means the ABS-CBN 13 are lying about needing time to deliberate the franchise renewal application. They have given up on any such renewal under Duterte so any deliberation would be futile and a waste of time. They do not plan to deliberate, just to give the provisional authority for two years and hope the next president is an ABS-CBN talent.

If the two-year provisional authority is given, it will extend the ABS-CBN franchise, assuming it will be given under the term of the new president, to a total of 27 years, at no sweat to the network as it will all be the handiwork of the ABS-CBN 13. All that ABS-CBN has to do in return is make sure the 13 get all the media support they can get for their present and future political endeavors. No single COVID-quarantined centavo need be forked over.

Such is a very neat subterfuge. But wait till you get to the bill's verbiage and you can really puke. Explainng the bill, the ABS-CBN 13 said in so many words that not allowing the network to operate will mean the loss of work or income for more than 11,000 employees. Don't you wish their hearts could bleed similarly for the millions rendered jobless by the pandemic and the millions more disqualified from getting any government aid?

The ABS-CBN 13 worry that the shutdown of the network would imperil the advertising industry, as if they do not know that all the other TV and radio stations, as well as newspapers, are very much open and alive to take in the P150 billion that advertising plunks into media annually. Is it really the health of the ad industry that concerns these senators or the loss of revenue for the Lopezes?

Another thing the ABS-CBN 13 fret about is the potential loss of tax revenues from the network. A good question to ask is whether they know for a fact if ABS-CBN has been paying the correct taxes regularly. Or whether they themselves pay correct taxes, for crying out loud. For people who feed off regularly on taxes by way of pork, in whatever form or nomenclature the barrel may come these days, it is a strange position to take on taxes.

Lastly, the ABS-CBN 13 fear the shutdown will ruin investor confidence. Really? Isn't it the other way around? Doesn't the unbridled, shameless preferential treatment exhibited by a gaggle of senators for a single corporate entity against everything that is legal, moral and ethical the surest and quickest way to grind investor confidence to the ground? Again, remember the names of the ABS-CBN 13. Avenge yourselves.

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