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The Wounded and the Winners

Let us remember the wounded; pressed but not crushed, persecuted, not abandoned.

Sen. Leila de Lima

Former COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

And now, the latest addition to this list, media network, ABS-CBN. (I would have included Vice President Leni Robredo in the list for how she was treated as the supposed “drug czar” for some time; but at least, she was not managed to be removed from position or convicted. Although at one time, there was an attempt to impeach her.)

I am dumbfounded. Oh naïve me, I still held on to some optimism that franchise would be granted to ABS-CBN. I should have seen that coming. It has been going on since assumption of the current administration. Take a second look at the list above. These are personalities who have been pressured, detained, expelled, convicted with much vigor; yet the common citizenry would find it hard to despise them or even understand why they met their fates. If any of us bother to ask, we’d get smacked in our faces with what former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon in the Erap impeachment trials referred to as “legal gobbledygook”. Then, one would be left tongue tied in helplessness.

I have been thinking. If Gabby Lopez’s citizenship has been questioned, why did plaintiffs file their complaints in the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Securities and Exchanges Commission? If there were tax evasion, why did not the Bureau of Internal Revenue impose appropriate sanctions? If employees were not given just benefits, and some were deprived of regularization, why did they not file complaint in the Department of Labor and Employment? If the network has practiced political bias, is there not a corresponding case for that? Why not file a case against them for that specific crime? But the layman would suppose that the appropriate actions for questions of citizenship, allegations of tax evasion of unfair labor practices, and of political prejudice is the denial of the license to operate one’s trade.

House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano backed up the House Committee’s decision with facebook post which included the owners of ABS-CBN,” which he said have been depriving the country of billions in taxes by “skirting and bending the law”, “capable of using the legal system to “victimize people” and hire lawyers “who expertly twist the law to suit their commercial interests”, and furthermore, “how can you argue that putting that much money in the pockets of one family, instead of having it benefit the millions of Filipinos who desperately need it, is in any way right or moral?”. ( Okay, it looks like Speaker Cayetano has a strong dislike against oligarchs. I heard Congressman Mike Defensor (yes, the same Congressman Defensor who used to be close with former President Gloria Arroyo who came back as a party list representative) make a similar comment against oligarchs. I remember President Duterte mention that same word when he had just assumed the presidency. (Not that I’m drawing connections with the franchise denial to Speaker Cayetano and to the President. Oh no Sir, I’m not insinuating anything like that; not when Sec. Salvador Panelo is so adamant in blasting at people who have expressed support to ABS-CBN after the committee decision.) Apparently, there is a group of people in government who share displeasure against families who have become too wealthy and powerful. So, I guess the next would be the Sys, the Ayalas, or the Gokongweis.

I remember in interviews that Speaker Cayetano vowed that he would not allow ABS-CBN to go off air, and that the network’s news programs are his staples. Now, he is venting his perceptions of injustice committed by the ABS-CBN’s proprietors. Did he not even a sponsored a bill that would give a 6 month franchise to the network? Did not that imply support? So, what was that all about?

In the course of the hearings, there had been times that the Congressmen who were against the franchise would recite their discourses on the lack of merit of the application, then later veer to personal resentments on the network’s treatment of them on the news programs. So, what really gives?

Interestingly, there is roughly an inverse proportion between the House committee 70 – 11 vote against the franchise, to an SWS survey showing 75% of Filipinos believing that the franchise should be granted. The people’s representatives seem to exhibit opposite connection from the people they should be representing.

On one hand, I do agree that all this is not an attack against freedoms of speech and press. Had it been so, ABS-CBN would not have been able to broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and the Kapamilya Channel. Furthermore, every media company covered the controversy. Everyone who had an opinion on the matter has been free to express in a medium of his/her choosing. It’s not an attack against freedom of speech. It is an attack on something or someone else.

For the sake of fairness, since I began with the wounded, let’s end by recalling the winners.

Former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla

Former President Ferdinand Marcos (for finally being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani) And everything/everyone from China.

“Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.”Proverbs 24:24

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