Too much ado about ABS-CBN
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 22, 2020 - 12:00am

While the whole nation is raging with many issues involving life, death, and survival, our politicians are being preoccupied by the parochial, if petty, narrow interests of a big business that’s worried about not being able to earn billions in ad revenues. While millions of Filipinos are losing their only means of livelihood, our congressmen are making a big fuss on the inability of a powerful network to earn billions.

What’s too urgent, too important, and overly imperative in the franchise of ABS-CBN that the House and the Senate would choose to set aside more compelling and indispensable measures involving the COVID-19 crisis? Will the whole nation die without ABS-CBN? They should focus on what really matters most. Thousands of companies are closing due to bankruptcy or undertaking retrenchments and redundancies. Millions are starving because they cannot go out and work. The government is running out of funds to feed the people. Instead of addressing more pressing issues, these elected public servants are trying to help this wealthy firm owned by wealthy Lopezes.

Moreover, there are many senators and congressmen who have alleged existing and erstwhile conflicts of interests, related to the issue A good number of them have spouses and other family members who either work for or who, personally or by their law firms, acted as counsel for the network. In the name of delicadeza, they should inhibit themselves. That gentle lady from Laguna, Sol Aragones, should have remained silent, instead of pandering to her former bosses by making manifestation in plenary session. She is now a public servant. In fact, Senator Grace Poe has showed signs of inhibition. She gave up her power to preside over the committee to another business-oriented senator, Win Gatchalian. And I agree with the Philippine STAR columnist, F. Sionil Jose that the nation shouldn’t bother itself with the interests of the oligarchy.

ABS-CBN cannot demand, as if it’s a matter of right, for the immediate grant of such a franchise. Much less could it demand its speedy release. A franchise is a privilege which the sovereign state may or may not grant in the exercise of its discretion under the general principles of police power. It’s neither a matter of extreme importance, much less of urgency, that both houses devote their attention on ABS-CBN. It isn’t a matter of life or death. As stated by former senate president JP Enrile, who was invited by the Senate as a resource person, public information is well-disseminated by radio networks other than ABS. That is precisely my point. ABS isn’t indispensable to national interests.

Congress should prioritize measures that save people from death and disease. They shouldn’t spend public funds catering to the selfish interests of a network which is facing some serious issues on taxation, citizenship, and labor rights of some complainants in pending cases. Senators and congressmen should prioritize millions of jobless, homeless, and hopeless Filipinos, not the oligarchy. For instance, they should crack their heads to help DOLE find solutions to more than 50,000 OFWs now in the country, unsure of their job prospects and the future of their family.

The nation will still survive without Cardo Dalisay or Vice Ganda. But the people will die without food, medical services, and social amelioration. Shakespeare wrote “Much Ado about Nothing” in 1599. It’s now 2020 and our politicians are still making a big fuss about a trifle. Congress should worry about the food of 100 million people, instead of the billions of the ruling class. Congressmen should learn the law of the classroom as Kim Chiu puts it.

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