Axe to grind

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    ‘The freedom of expression on various social media platforms cannot be controlled nor stifled by any existing or breathing entity on the planet but offended parties are provided with legal remedies under the constitution.’

    PRESIDENT Duterte’s supporter and adviser Rafael Alunan has sent a personal plea for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise on behalf of his daughter who is suffering from an incurable disease. She is with the sales division of the huge network selling wholesome and family-oriented programs. The 11,000 employees have taken their ordeal intensely personal, caught in the middle of what Alunan calls “power politics” now being shamelessly advanced by Congress. Alunan, like others, says it straight and the rest of the country knows this: Only the President can intervene for Congress to approve the new operating franchise of ABS-CBN, This is the only way that Alunan’s physically-infirmed daughter and many others doing honest hard work can keep their jobs.

    Politicians, subjects of objective news reportage and incisive commentaries, have an axe to grind against ABS-CBN, and certainly against the other major broadcast networks that have similarly strong and distinguished news and public affairs divisions. Rep. Mike Defensor used to be one of the leading lights in Congress who brought youthful vitality to principled lawmaking and advocacies. He was known as one of the “Spice Boys,” so-called for their good looks and rare legislative drive. His outlook shifted elsewhere when he came under the wings of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was named to various Cabinet positions.

    Many people remember him as GMA’s troubleshooter in restraining whistleblower Jun Lozada to the extent of allegedly kidnapping him at the height of the media expose’ of the corrupt-riddled ZTE national broadband multi-billion peso project. Along with GMA7 radio and TV, ABS-CBN had carried out a vigorous coverage of the events with Defensor as the object of a critical media barrage which was just a good day’s work for anchors and commentators.

    Rep. Boying Remulla has called on the NBI to probe what he called his online bashers over his show of disrespect during the singing of the national anthem and lashed out at ABSCBN for “playing up” the story. It does not have to be Remulla for the news production of ABS-CBN, GMA7 or TV5 to develop the relevant story which is undeniably a legitimate news item. What Remulla did, a violation of the Constitution, has become the subject of TV, radio, newspaper and online commentaries The NBI will have to summon more than 100,000 netizens who have launched a series of mostly blistering attacks against Remulla.

    Other solons have also been swamped with angry outbursts on social media over the ABS-CBN franchise hearings and have asked for restraint. Rep. Marcoleta, to whom the taxpayers woefully do not owe a time of day, has nearly 200,000 bashers.

    The freedom of expression on various social media platforms cannot be controlled nor stifled by any existing or breathing entity on the planet but offended parties are provided with legal remedies under the constitution. ABS-CBN TeleRadyo’s Julius Babao is absolutely right. It is the professional obligation of the news media to present the two sides of a story, but it is not its job to please any affected government official. Many in media cringed as Marcoleta lectured the network’s News and Public Affairs Senior Vice President Ging Reyes for almost an hour on how to create a headline. Reyes stood her ground, as any tested and feisty news executive would have done, but resisted the urge to make mincemeat of Marcoleta by lecturing back on the real work of the Fourth Estate under any government.

    Her explanation about context, background and relevance of headline items fell on deaf ears.

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