Six months probationary period for ABS-CBN
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 16, 2020 - 12:00am

The Lower House, led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, has given ABS-CBN what the usual detractors might call a “consuelo de bobo”, a six-month probationary period prior to regularization. Is this good or bad for the network?

Those who would say that it is better than nothing would, of course, argue that ABS-CBN got breathing space, a time to reflect on all the issues thrown against it and against its owners. Issues like the citizenship of its chairman, and those about taxes, and the alleged unauthorized collection of fees for what they call the magic black box or something. There are also issues related to HR and Labor laws, aired by this guy Joebert Sucaldito and the old labor problem involving Jay Sonza, the former partner of Mel Tiangco, in the long-defunct “Mel and Jay Show”. These were implied when Speaker Alan said once that convening Congress does not mean automatic issuance of a franchise law. That was pregnant with premonitions of dark clouds.

On the other hand, those who feel insulted by this Act of Congress in putting the ABS-CBN in a virtual suspended animation would say that Congress is playing games with franchise lawmaking, and is obviously trying to put the network under a prolonged agony and subservience. During the six-month period, the top broadcast commentators of that network would restrain themselves from saying bad words against the powers-that-be in Mount Olympus. For any criticism may anger the man from La Mancha and the franchise may be either denied or delayed indefinitely. That would mean many millions worth of ads shifting from Kapamilya to Kapuso, and many talents jumping ship to the other side.

My take on this is that Speaker Alan and King Zeus of Mount Olympus are really good power players. They are Machiavelli, Hamilton, Trump, and Putin combined. They are really chastening the once-proud and self-righteous people of ABS-CBN. And the strategists of that network are being outwitted again. Their case before the Supreme Court may face dismissal once the new law granting six-month franchise will be passed by both Houses. Because that would make the network's cause of action moot and academic. The Lower House is rushing the legislative process, and the Senate will have a lot of questions about the six-month limitation. If the Senate insists on raising a lot of issues, the blame would be on the senators. If they would rush the same, then they agree that ABS-CBN does not deserve a full 25-year franchise as yet. Alan is a clever chess player.

The moment my good friend, Lord Alan Velasco (he was my student in the UST Law School), takes over the House leadership come October, the headaches would fall on him. By then, the gentleman from Taguig, Cayetano, and his disciples, like Congressman LRay Villafuerte, would then filibuster and delay the process, thus endangering again the network's operation because the six-month period will expire before Christmas. And NTC would again send them a Christmas card with an attached cease and desist order. Then, ABS-CBN will go to the Supreme Court again. But lo and behold, by that time Solgen Calida will already be a justice of that highest tribunal. That means that Cardo Dalisay will have a blue Christmas, and might cry and break into outburst again, with Kim Chiu shedding tears, and Kabayan Noli raising his democracy pitch again.

In Labor law, a new employee has to undergo a six-month probationary period within which he should prove his competence, character, and conscientiousness. In the case of ABS-CBN, it will be subjected to the strictest procedures of screening and evaluation not just by Congress, but above all, by Apollo of Mount Olympus. I have my serious doubts if the network can withstand the test of fire.

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