ABS-CBN's “slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes”
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 26, 2020 - 12:00am

In “Hamlet”, one of William Shakespeare's greatest masterpieces, the prince bemoans the many pains and anguishes of life. Considering ABS-CBN's many problems and difficulties, we can imagine that if founder Don Eugenio Lopez and his brother, Don Fernando, the vice president of the republic, were alive today, they too would have expressed exasperation.

Prince Hamlet exclaimed: "To be or not to be, that is the question, whether t'is nobler in the mind to suffer, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes. Or to take arms against the sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them." I could imagine that in these last few weeks, while the nation is fighting COVID-19, the Lopezes are in their war room, discussing strategies. The question is whether to bow to, and make amends with, Zeus in Mount Olympus, or to fight, wishing that in battling Zeus’s forces, ABS-CBN could end its sea of troubles. But I doubt it.

Apparently, they have chosen to fight. This is a matter of principle, and if Don Eugenio were here today to guide Gabby Lopez and Carlo Katigbak, he would have chosen to fight too. The Lopezes are men of honor, landed sugar barons from Iloilo. They were called oligarchs but they earned their billions through honest toils, with a little help from political connections, just like the Cojuangcos of Tarlac. Thus, they won’t give up these fortunes without fighting for them. Of course, if Don Fernando has his say, he would rather talk to Zeus. That was precisely why he was vice president to both President Elpidio Quirino and Ferdinand Marcos. That was the tandem of the Lopez brothers; Don Eugenio focused on business and Don Fernando on politics.

If I were in the team of advisors to Gabby and Karlo, I would counsel fighting in courts a la Don Eugenio, supplemented by a backdoor diplomatic approach as would Don Fernando. The Lopezes cannot win this battle in the Lower House, They will be “massacred” by the battalions of the sultan of Taguig. The lord of the House, Sir Alan Peter, with his subalterns, musketeers like LRay Villafuerte and the dozens of deputy speakers, will most probably take beyond October, debating until kingdom come, and receiving the testimonies of all detractors of ABS-CBN, ad infinitum. They don’t call it a pre-meditated delay. Rather it’s a decent respect for due process.

Meanwhile, Katigbak, last Tuesday, issued an ominous threat of retrenchment, thereby putting in jeopardy the job security of its thousands (I really don’t believe 11,000. I take DOLE's record of 5,000). When retrenchment is finally undertaken, then the separated workers cease to be allies of ABS-CBN. Many of them won’t accept any separation pay, and will run to the NLRC to sue for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practices. If they don’t have lawyers, the Public Attorney's Office is mandated to provide legal counsels. Thus, ABS-CBN will then be fighting both the government and its own workers, and the forum where the legal fight will be staged is also in the government, with lawyers controlled by government. How then can ABS-CBN win?

More reason therefore, for the Lopezes to dispatch a top-caliber diplomatic mission to fly to Mount Olympus to plead for Zeus' forgiveness and make amends. They should listen to their talent Kim Chiu. "Dahil lumabas ka sa classroom, makipag-ayos ka sa teacher. Huwag kang ma-angas.'' Make amends. Zeus is a compassionate man. In fact, he said he has already forgiven ABS-CBN. But the Lord of the House has not yet forgiven although he quotes the Bible like bishop Quiboloy or brothers Mike and Eddie, ABS-CBN may also have to go to the kingdom of Taguig. Don Eugenio and Don Fernando would have seen wisdom in Kim Chiu's new art of war. "Ayusin mo.''

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