"I say it’s baloney."
Santa Banana, the junking of no less than 13 bills filed at the House of Representatives for the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN has given rise to a cacophony of voices, mostly unfamiliar with the real issues behind the congressional move.
What is a legislative franchise, anyway?
It is a franchise granted by Congress for corporations engaged in public utilities and mass media. As far as media is concerned, be it radio or television, there is a provision in the Constitution that its ownership and management are only for Filipino citizens.
My gulay, when a company applies for a franchise—normally for 25 years, renewable for another 25—that is a privilege and not a right. It is a privilege granted by Congress since the airwaves form part of the patrimony of the state.
Thus, from the start, the core of the ABS-CBN issue is whether or not Congress, representing the state, will grant it the franchise renewal. The issue of press freedom was never in question. This is contrary to what those raising hell about the congressional vote are saying.
Some of my colleagues in media who are supporting ABS-CBN have been using cliches such as “chilling effect” and “a stab on press freedom.” I say it’s baloney.
In exercising their opinion, don’t they realize they are also exercising their freedom of expression? So what are they complaining about?
I think they are being misled by their emotions. They cannot quite comprehend why the House denied the franchise.
I do not want to repeat myself by enumerating, every time, the issues against the Lopezes that brought about the junking of the franchise renewal application. People should just read the findings of the technical working group that looked into the issue. The grounds are clear and in fact obvious.
The network committed many violations, so I am really sad for my colleagues in media who are joining the mob in condemning the denial of the franchise. I wonder if they really know what they are talking about. I wonder if they even know what press freedom is truly about.
These people contradict themselves when they cry to high heavens that press freedom is being threatened. It’s truly pathetic, Santa Banana!
* * *
My nephew, Rudolf Philip Jurado, sent me a copy of his 62-page petition to the Supreme Court questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The law is supposed to take effect on July 18.
He raises several main points. My nephew is the former Duterte government corporate counsel.
First, the House of Representatives railroaded the passage of the bill. While they passed it on second and third reading on separate days, the House should have printed copies in its final form to be distributed to House embers three days before its passage into law. The exception to this House rule is when the President certifies the necessity of the law’s immediate enactment.
My nephew said the rule was not followed in this case. He also said that Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon withdrew his authorship of the bill because he had no time to read it.
The truth of the matter was that the House simply adopted the Senate version.
Jurado also attacked the President’s certification of the law because he did not mention the emergency or necessity of it.
What was most telling in the petition is that Jurado said it was unconstitutional. He cited Section 29 of the law which authorizes the exemption of law enforcement from criminal liability should there be a delay in bringing suspects to court. He said this would violate Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, which says detention could only be for 12, 18 or 36 hours depending on the offense.
My gulay, if lawyers went through the proposed law at all before the President signed it, they should all be fired!