On ABS-CBN franchise and Sharon Cuneta's appeal to Digong

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After the megastar Sharon Cuneta signed her new contract with mega media giant ABS-CBN, she was quoted to have appealed to her friend, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to be “considerate” with her home studio whose employees ranging to the thousands stand to lose their shirts the minute Duterte stops the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise.

Whoever told Cuneta to just do what she did, should be fired by ABS-CBN. It simply does not help in the cause of the home studio that they deploy their own talents to appeal for its behalf. That is tasteless, and demeans the very cause why ABS-CBN should keep its franchise.

RENEWALS of any franchise should be based on merit, not on personal defenses from any personality, especially of ABS-CBN. Just because ABS-CBN employs thousands is not enough reason for Duterte or any other Philippine president to just shrug and gloss over infractions which the station committed against the Filipino people, especially the government.

Come to think of it, Cuneta should not have allowed herself to be quoted, appealing to Mr. Duterte for ABS-CBN’s behalf. It was ill-timed and causes a bad taste in the mouth especially since Cuneta just signed a new contract with the station which Duterte now wants dead. Worse, Cuneta might be accused of using her friendship with Duterte and being paid exactly for that. It is definitely unfair to the megastar. I know that she is not that kind of person. She, however, should have been more circumspect.

Setting that aside, ABS-CBN deserves a renewal provided that it satisfies all the requisite regulatory policies and did not at all violate any Philippine law. I agree with Congressman Rufus Rodriguez who asked Congress to expedite the hearing of the ABS-CBN franchise. Being a public utility, ABS-CBN deserves the protection the state grants to media entities.

As one of the features of a democratic society, media entities deserve state protection against predation and strong-hand tactics especially coming from bureaucrats, no less than the President. It is not only a guarantee provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution but even by international conventions.

ABS-CBN, as with any other media entity, deserves no pressure from political groups and personalities, for it interferes with its job of presenting news and information. I had it on high authority that ABS-CBN was forced to air press releases of a certain political candidate out of fear that this person would further fuel Duterte’s hatred against it. Review reports by TV patrol during this period and one would surely notice the uncanny rise of numbers of reports about this candidate compared with others.

Some would say that was the result of editorial considerations out of fear for this candidate who always wanted to be seen beside the President despite being a member of Congress, a separate and independent pillar of government. This guy is squeezing all he could out of Duterte whom he has served religiously and doggedly for decades.

If I’m ABS-CBN, I would surely use this to expose the malignant effects such pronounced and highly public avowals of hatred by the Chief Executive against it. If indeed, Duterte pursues his plan of cancelling or stopping the grant of franchise to ABS-CBN, the media giant can definitely use these cases and file an appeal to the courts. I am definite the courts would hear this and grant ABS-CBN its just desserts.

Due to Duterte’s childish rants, ABS-CBN has for several months, been acutely aware not to rock the boat so to speak, even preventing itself from reporting things against this administration. It has lessened reports of impropriety and corruption against certain members of the Duterte administration, one of whom is Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, who has now has to answer numerous pending cases before the Ombudsman for spending government monies for his numerous travels abroad.

I dare a member of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication or even the PCIJ to do a media audit on reports made by ABS-CBN’s TV patrol and its affiliate public affairs shows and they would surely discover a trend there. This can be used precisely to prove how disastrous it is for the Philippine public that a President has publicly stated his personal take on ABS-CBN or against any media entity or even a private entity for that matter.

Just because one sits as president, one can avenge a personal affront using state power. Katarantaduhan! No one should use the Office of the President to get even with a personal matter. That charge by Mr. Duterte that his commercial was not aired during the elections is a personal, not a state matter.

DEMOCRATIC FORCES MUST ALSO SUPPORT ABS-CBN’S CAUSE AS IT IS TIME ALREADY FOR EVERYONE TO STAND UP AGAINST THIS BULLY OR PSEUDO-BULLY, MR. DUTERTE.

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