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The ABS riddle




Jullie Y. Daza

Jullie Y. Daza

How do you solve a problem like ABS-CBN?

Too big to fail? Too powerful to tempt a President’s “displeasure”?

That last word, displeasure, was Secretary Sal Panelo’s in describing DU30’s three-year-old pain-in-the-neck with the broadcast giant. And so it has come to this, 11,000 employees facing unemployment, the dismantling of a lucrative business both local and global that’s an industry in itself, and, scariest of all, the thought that PRRD’s allies in Congress will give him what he wants.

If you consult five lawyers, you get seven answers. How about outsmarting a Rubik’s cube?

Of all people, who’d expect the President’s messenger to tone down the rhetoric? Last week,  Sec Panelo advised congressmen, who hold the power to extend or not to extend ABS’ franchise, “They should do their duty as members of Congress. Any statement of displeasure from the President should be ignored by them in relation to their work.” Between the lines, recall how there have been insinuations of presidential pressure, how a group of ladies hied off to a hotel for some urgent business, forcing the untimely closing of session for lack of quorum.

Shorn of the officiousness of his statement, Sec Sal spoke to me in a softer tone, “Tell your daughter (Disclosure: she’s employed by ABS) not to be sad. Congress can override any veto of the President by a two-thirds majority.” That opinion is shared by Rep. Edcel Lagman.

It was nice to hear stars of the “Kapuso” network standing up for their “Kapamilya” rivals. Dingdong Dantes and Aiko Melendez summed it up, “We are one heart, one family.” Manny Pangilinan’s TV 5, which has offered block-time services to ABS, was non-adversarial in its treatment of the franchise story.

Senator Imee Marcos, with no love lost for the network, said the solution is “follow the law.”

Senator Nancy Binay opined that although she and her family were unfairly treated, the network should continue to operate, “keep government on its toes.”

Rep. Lito Atienza, who unleashed the firestorm by reminding the head of the House committee on franchises to start deliberations on the floor immediately “or step down as chairman,” is glad that things are finally moving — but why a closed-door session as suggested? “What are you trying to hide?” ###



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