Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

After Coco Martin exposes how emotionally immature he is outside of a teleserye script, after Kim Chiu could not seem to free herself of the classroom of her mind, and after the star I have loved so much in the silver screen, Angel Locsin, equates the virtue of charity for the placebo effect of dole-outs, it seemed there was nothing more to add to the battle of the dicks.

The phallic structure of ABS-CBN did not start just yesterday. It got erected when Corazon Aquino, for no consideration and paper trail, returned Meralco, BenPres, and ABS-CBN to the Lopez family.

Thus the Cacique Democracy, that Benedict Anderson coined to describe the feudal political system of the Philippines where in many parts of the country local leaders remain very strong, with almost warlord-type powers.

The Lopezes lost their prized possessions during the Marcos administration, how and why is a topic for another discussion. The fact, Cory resurrected it.

Foreign intervention

Cory’s powers did not come from the people. She was not what the People Power Revolution was all about. The spirit of Edsa was really for political liberation, in protest against Marcos’ authoritarianism, economic emancipation, in protest against the ruling elite that controls the pocketbook of the nation, and social accord in protest against institutions that our damaged culture has built through years of colonial domination, and passed on to incoming generations as legacy when actually they were abomination of our true Asian heritage.

Cory was not even elected. She lost the 1986 snap elections. The Americans had to kidnap Ferdinand Marcos and his family and exile them to Hawaii, in order that this foreign intervention can seat her as president. Slowly as her successors came one after another, the abuses of liberal democracy started permeating in our surviving society.

Cory mothballed instruments of our economy that would have made us self-sustaining. For instance, if she allowed the (1) Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to operate, we would only be dependent on imports of foreign fuel by 14% and breathing cleaner air devoid of pollution from burning fossil energy. If she allowed (2) Liban Dam and the (3) Paranaque Spillway to be built, we would have better supply of drinking water and better flood control management.

Fidel Ramos continued Mrs. Aquino’s western platform of privatization, liberation, deregulation and tarrification that brought back oligarchs to control our country’s industries to the sacrifice of the benefits consumers enjoyed in the nationalization of power, water and public transport.

Joseph Estrada brokered graft in cahoots with the private sector, notably inside trading in the securities business, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo mastered corruption of the public coffers, like in the fertilizer scam and the building of a new terminal.

The son of Cory made a profession of a unique dictatorship by leveraging pork barrel to remove an Ombudsman and impeach the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Worse, he malversed disaster relief and totally mismanaged the national police sending 44 of its finest to their gruesome deaths.

Throughout these thirty short years, our orientation as a people shifted from the common good to individual self-interests, in public policy – national interests on the use of our resources for the benefit of the few who are rich and powerful.

The gruesome details of how the Lopezes became the epicenter of the Philippine oligarchies can be found in Greed & Betrayal, a bestselling book published in 2000 by Amazon, one of the world’s largest publishing houses in the United States and written by multi-awarded journalist Cecilio T. Arillo.  Those who cannot buy the book for whatever reason can access the chapters through a series reprinted by the Manila Times starting February 26, 2020.       

Gabby rooted for Mar                                                                  

The Lopez magic however began to wither when Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao said Gabby Lopez went on a pissing contest with Noynoy Aquino. This led to the withdrawal of ABS-CBN of their 2014 application for franchise renewal in 2016 in the hope that Mar Roxas would win the 2016 presidential elections.

Gabby rooted for Roxas with hammer and tongs.

According to blogger Benigno, Piolo Pascual who is a member of the ABS-CBN-branded Kapamilya clique of performers said that he was an avid supporter of then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte but was not allowed to endorse him openly during his campaign.

Pascual stopped short of categorically stating that it was ABS-CBN or an agent of it that disallowed him from endorsing Duterte openly: “Every time I would go to Davao, pinipilit kong maka-meet siya and hindi lang ako pinayagang mag-endorse [openly], pero I’ve always been for Digong.”

The network would not even air Duterte’s prepaid political advertising so at the end of the day it has been the Lopez hubris and sense of impunity that will do its oligarchic house in.

 Duterte would win bigtime and consistently stay his approval ratings at over 80%.  

After a long cold shoulder thinking it could still wiggle out the small detail on the road to its renewal of franchise, ABS-CBN Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak apologized publicly to Duterte on February 24, 2020. The Philippine president almost immediately accepted the apology.

But regardless of emotions and diversionary tactics the yellows and the communists play on the Kapamilya issue, the legislative initiative lies in the shoulders of house committee on legislative franchises Chairman Franz Alvarez of Palawan and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano,

Surprisingly Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara played musical chairs with the issue thinking the National Telecommunications Commission would also play footsies with the network’s star power until the dying hours of May 4, the eve of the expiration of the franchise.

Lawyering for the people, Solicitor General Pepe Calida, it appears, had the last card – the decision of the Supreme Court in a 2003 case (Associated Communications & Wireless Services versus NTC) which stated that there is a need for an existing license before a corporation can operate.

“We were unanimous in holding that there is need for a franchise before the NTC can grant a provisional permit. Without a franchise, the television station concerned has to cease operations,” Reynato Puno said of the decision of which he was the ponente.

In addition, the former top magistrate likewise referred to Republic Act No. 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines, a measure which specifies the roles of the NTC.

The NTC issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN the next day, a petition for Certiori.

Anticipated ruling of the high court

I consulted Arnedo Valera, my lawyer based in the US, and he sent me his legal opinion. This is what he has to say:

“The franchise expired May 4, 2020 by operation of law. 

“Congress has the sole authority in the approval and renewal of franchise applications. That is their mandate. It cannot be cured by any Congressional Resolution.

“Under the principle of separation of powers, the Court cannot intervene by rendering a decision to compel Congress to act on it. 

“Congress under its plenary power is the sole legal authority to approve the ABS CBN franchise renewal application.

“Congress needs to act on the franchise renewal application.

“There is not even the need for NTC to issue Cease and Desist order as the Franchise has expired on May 4, 2020 by operation of law. NTC’s cease and desist order is an executive function that they need to perform in the event that ABS CBN will continue to operate despite the May 4, 2020 expiration of its franchise.

“Again, because there is no justiciable question and under the cardinal principle of separation of powers, this Court cannot and will not render a legal opinion on this matter. More so render a decision.

“There is no likelihood of success on the merits in this petition and immediate irreparable damage or injury to ABS-CBN was not properly established.

“Thus, TRO and Preliminary Injunction denied.

“Freedom of speech is not an issue. You cannot invoke the freedom of speech where there is no evidence of the Philippine Government is suppressing this fundamental right considering that their Franchise expired on May 4, 2020 by operation of law and is not a closure caused in anyway by the police power of the State.

“The granting of a franchise is a privilege and not a right. In the grand scheme of things, in order for any business to legally operate no matter what the size or purpose, they need to obtain and renew their business permits and or franchises whenever appropriate.

“In layman’s language, if your driver’s license expired, you cannot drive unless it’s renewed.

“This may not even be a case of Dura Lex Sed Lex here but Ignorantia legis neminem excusat is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content.

“All told, petition for certiorari denied in all grounds as there is no justiciable question owing to the principle of separation of powers!”

Henceforth, even in the face of Covid-19, distancing from the law even by the strongest cacique mentality, is never to be allowed.

The law may be harsh, but it is the law. We recall the proper application at this point of Dura Lex Sed Lex.

The new normal is the rule of law. (ia/

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