By Artchil B. Fernandez
“If you are bad to the President, he would be worse for you. If you are kind to the President, he would be kinder to you,” Bong Go, Du30’s personal assistant/caregiver/private nurse sums up his principal’s personality. Everything for Du30 is personal and this primarily drives his actions as president. This nature of Du30 is once again in full display on the controversy involving the renewal of the franchise of giant television network ABS-CBN.
Immediately after assuming the presidency, Du30 launched an intermittent but steady attack on ABS-CBN. He would insert his ill-feelings towards the television network in every opportunity available. Knowing that the 25-year franchise of the station expires within his term, Du30 found a weapon to wield against it.
After airing his hurt against ABS-CBN in his public speeches, Du30 would vow to ensure that the station closes after its franchise expires. The television network’s days are numbered Du30 thundered.
Congress which is vested with the power to grant television franchise had been sitting on the bills calling for the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN. Controlled by Du30’s supermajority, Congress through its inaction echoed Du30’s sentiment. But Du30’s offensive against the network is not limited in Congress.
To cover all fronts, Du30 through his Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a petition to the Supreme Court voiding ABS-CBN franchise through quo warranto. This legal instrument had been weaponized by Du30 through a pliant and spineless Supreme Court against Du30’s perceived enemies. It was used to remove Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from office, a move universally condemned by the legal community as a patently illegal, unconstitutional and blatant abuse of power of the High Court. Now the same abhorrent abuse of the legal remedy is being used against ABS-CBN.
In his quo warranto petition, Du30 through Calida accused ABS-CBN of many violations. The petition alleges that the network has tax liabilities. It also charged the station of violating its franchise by offering a pay-per-view service and violated securities rules on foreign investments. These “sins” of the television giant are more than enough reasons for its closure, Calida cried.
Despite Du30’s enormous advantage over ABS-CBN, given the awesome power of the presidency, he failed to sway public opinion on his side. Even with his troll factories working overtime, his attacks against the station did not resonate except among his dwindling fanatics.
Worst for Du30, the usually submissive Congress, feeling the heat from the restive public on the issue exhibited a certain degree of autonomy. The Lower House committee on franchise started the legislative process by asking for position papers on ABS-CBN franchise renewal while the Senate called for a hearing on the subject. The Senate hearing was a revelation.
Representatives from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) testified that ABS-CBN has no tax liabilities and is paying the correct taxes. The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) told the Senate the pay-per-view offer was not a violation of a franchise. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) informed the Senate that ABS-CBN is not under investigation for violating corporate practices.
If ABS-CBN has not violated existing laws, rules and regulations covering its operations as Du30 alleges and amplified by his troll factories and dwindling fanatics, it is plain that the attack against the station is about the bruised feelings of the president. Du30 wanted to punish the station for hurting his feelings with the non-airing of his political ads.
ABS-CBN clarified the matter on the political ads of Du30 in the Senate. All national ads of Du30 were aired by the network. What was not aired was some of Du30’s regional ads due to late placement and the first-come-first-serve rule. The station returned the money of Du30 for the ads, albeit delay of releasing the 2.6 million of the 7 million. The network also apologized to Du30 for the non-airing of the ads.
It is very clear that Du30 is using his office to punish people and entities that hurt his feelings. He was mad at Sen. Leila de Lima for investigating his alleged connection with the Davao death squad and angry at Chief Justice Sereno for commenting against his pet project, the war against illegal drugs. His feelings were hurt when ABS-CBN did not air his regional ads.
Du30 spent the last three and half years in office not governing the nation but running after people who injured his feelings or bruised his ego. He is like a small child seeking petty revenge on those who wounded his pride and bruised his feelings. Du30 mobilized the resources of the government and the full power of his office to punish individuals and organizations he hates and appease his spoiled ego.
Here again, is a clear example of how the leader of the nation is using his office not to serve national interest but personal interest. This is what is wrong with the leaders of this country. Public office is viewed as the personal property of the politician occupying it and the occupant uses it to promote personal and selfish interest. In the case of Du30, this man-child in Malacañang is utilizing the awesome power of the presidency to satisfy personal hurt. Du30 is nothing but a petty, vindictive and spiteful person.
But Du30 is paying a high political cost to satisfy his bruised ego. From all indicators, his evil plan against ABS-CBN is not likely to succeed. His allies in Congress are changing their tunes, even Du30. He accepted the apology and said he will not interfere in the franchise renewal. His daughter publicly supported the renewal of the station’s franchise. The apparent retreat and graceful exit is the result of a strong backlash against blatant abuse of power. Placed on the bind are the fanatics who now have to switch from hate to love of ABS-CBN.