By Reyshimar Arguelles
It’s clear as a glass of soju that ABS-CBN’s franchise issue isn’t going anywhere but down the drain pipe and into Nietzsche’s abyss. It’s as if the drama grows even more absurd as time passes, all thanks to our politicians who are hard at work making fools of themselves.
People deserved to see wits in gladiatorial combat and not the type of comedy show that transpired on Tuesday when ABS-CBN’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez III faced the House of Representatives again for another round of “grilling”. And indeed, it would not have been much of a barbecue party without someone making remarks that lack value of any sort.
I wasn’t able to see the entire session, but seeing how SAGIP Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta questioned Lopez about his citizenship status was more than enough to describe the uselessness of this whole drama.
Lopez’s citizenship was brought to light when lawmakers handling ABS-CBN’s franchise application questioned his being both an American and Filipino citizen. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1952, Lopez maintained that he is Filipino who, only by circumstance, became a US citizen on the principle of jus soli.
It would appear as though ABS-CBN’s critics are concerned with the technical aspects of Lopez’s citizenship, but they have missed out on a few facts that could blow their arguments right out of the water.
Marcoleta and his posse which includes Cavite 7th District Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla and Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. reiterated a Constitutional provision stating that media entities in the country should be 100% Filipino-owned. On that premise, they see Lopez as Two-Face — a villain with dual personalities in the Batman comics (or even the schizophrenic Smeagol in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings).
It’s clear that foreigners are not allowed to own a media company in the country, but it’s also apparent that Article 16 Section 11 of the Constitution does not explicitly ban dual citizens from doing so. Added to that is the fact that Lopez enjoys permanent Filipino citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225, thereby granting him full benefits and rights under Philippine law.
These facts are also maintained by representatives from The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission who are also invited to the hearings.
One cannot stress enough how hell-bent administration allies are when it comes to closing down a media giant that has been the prime target of trolls for its “unfair” treatment of Duterte and its “biased” reporting of his government’s bloody anti-drug campaign. And without a doubt, they will throw everything they have to bring ABS-CBN down in a clear act of retribution and grandstanding that has nothing to do
Any well-meaning person can underscore Marcoleta’s hand in authoring bills for media companies who operated past a 50-year cap on legislative franchises based on what ABS-CBN has culled out from public records. But the cherry on top is the fact that Marcoleta voted in favor of a measure that allows foreigners to own 100% of public utilities, including water and electricity.
Marcoleta has yet to answer regarding his stand on these issues, but what really irked people during the last hearing was his challenge for Lopez to recite the Panatang Makabayan. Every Filipino knows it by heart and you can’t be one without saying even the first lines of the pledge. But it’s only apparent that not everyone practices what it strives to uphold: a sense of patriotism.
But what really is patriotism to lawmakers supporting measures that are detrimental to citizen’s rights.
Nationalism has lost its meaning nowadays and it’s because the democratic systems that seek to uphold it have always been a platform where politicians can create rules and push away meaningful discussions about progress and change.
With the parody we have for a legislature right now, transforming our society remains a long shot.