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Past sins, future burst

“Myths are propagated to protect the interest of those telling it and time has to burst it.




The propaganda overdrive involving all the resources of the yellow mob has equated the filing of the quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court (SC) with human rights and media freedom.

The petition aims to forfeit the franchises of broadcasting giant ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. that will effectively put the Lopez firm out of business.

Voiding the franchise of ABS-CBN Convergence will make difficult the option of the broadcast firm to migrate to broadband media.

Then, the usual critics of President Rody Duterte have shifted from the usual extrajudicial killings yarn on the President to coming to the aid of ABS-CBN.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), the usual conduit of the yellow mob, urged Congress to reject what they termed as “Mr. Duterte’s apparent misuse of regulatory powers against the country’s largest broadcast network.”

Of course, the HRW excuse in dabbling in the business concern of the Lopezes was media freedom, which it said “Philippine legislators have a responsibility to uphold.”

“President Duterte’s administration should cease its politically motivated legal actions against the network,” it added.

The grudge of the President against the network was well known since he indicated in many of his speeches that ABS-CBN swindled him by not airing his advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Lopez family are longtime political opponents of the former Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and had been a patron of the Aquino family.

The network’s critical coverage of the Duterte administration primarily on the flagship war on drugs was also a blatant show of its political bias.

Solicitor General (SolGen) Jose Calida filed on Monday the quo warranto petition to act on alleged abuse of the provisions of the franchise of the broadcast firm.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

Such abuses are undertaken through the use of an “elaborately crafted corporate veil” while he also alleged that foreign investors have invested a huge stake into the firm through the sale of Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corp., which the SolGen said violated provisions of the 1987 Constitution the limits mass media ownership to Filipinos.

The broadcasting firm “abused” the privilege granted by the State when it launched and operated a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunications Commission.

“While it is true that broadcasting is a business, the welfare of the people must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit,” Calida said.

The question posed by Calida to the SC was the same issue that Rody had ranted about the oligarchs who dominate the economy.

Most of these rich families and businessmen have built up their wealth by exploiting connections with government in disregard of the welfare of the public.

The Lopezes, for instance, won back ABS-CBN from the government for a song when President Cory Aquino wrested power from President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Their claim of the network being taken over forcefully by the Marcos regime was also proven a myth.

In a 2010 decision, the SC dismissed with finality the petition of the Lopez family to hold several cronies of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos criminally liable for taking over ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. during martial law in 1972.

The tribunal said the Lopezes failed to prove that they were defrauded by Marcos “by forcing them to sign an agreement” during the martial law years.

The court noted that that petitioners even met and discussed with representatives of Marcos, led by the late ambassador Roberto Benedicto, the fixing of the rental rate for the ABS-CBN studios, as provided in a lease agreement; wrote a demand letter to respondents for the payment of rentals for the use of properties; and made a claim against the estate of Benedicto based on the same agreement that indicated they were being paid for the use of the properties.

The Lopez family’s claim was that Benedicto’s group forced them to sign an agreement conveying ABS-CBN’s television and radio equipment and its premises in Quezon City to KBS, the umbrella organization of the Benedicto Group of Companies.

Myths are propagated to protect the interest of those telling it and time has come to burst it.

The action of Calida sought to uphold the policy under Rody that no one is above the law, including powerful media entities such as ABS-CBN.