This may be a hackneyed query/statement, but just the same I am going to say it to stress my point: “Why not crucify the owner of the goose that lays the golden eggs, rather than kill the goose itself?”
I am referring of course at the precarious fate that the nation’s biggest media group is facing on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to silence it. This, after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed before the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition seeking to void the franchise of ABS-CBN.
Activists, civic and other media organizations are denouncing such move as an assault on press freedom in the country and I could not blame them.
But more than the assault on press freedom and the burning desire to close a media institution like the ABS-CBN is the dire consequence that thousands of workers, professionals or otherwise, single or married, will have their livelihood, dreams and plans, turned upside down and uncertain. It is estimated that there will be over 11,000 direct and indirect employees of the giant media company who will lose their jobs over the closure.
We all know how all these came about. Duterte has repeatedly pledged to stop the broadcast operations of ABS-CBN and expressed anger over its adverse reporting during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Early in his term Duterte had accused the giant media of failing to broadcast his campaign advertisements and not returning the payments. He described this as having been swindled. The president has repeatedly vowed in public speeches to block any new license and a proposed law that would give ABS-CBN a 25-year operating permit has been gathering dust in congress since mid-2016.
Then came Calida’s statement, saying, “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices by ABS-CBN. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the state, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our constitution and laws.”
I mean if it is just a matter of ABS-CBN failing to publish Duterte’s political advertisement and also failing to return the alleged P2.8 million paid for those ads, then why not just go after the owners of ABS-CBN and leave the institution running and existing for after all, does it not fall under the doctrine of command responsibility? Let the owners now decide on the fate of those responsible for handling the publication of the ads for their inadequacy.
To be fair, ABS-CBN, as an institution, has employees sympathetic of Duterte also and his governance. In fact many ABS-CBN stars are unabashed supporters of the president. Suffice to say that Duterte has also benefited a lot from the network.