Firestorm

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    SEN. Bong Go probably thinks he was doing ABS-CBN a big service when he prodded Congress last Wednesday to open public hearings on its franchise renewal consigned to some eight languishing or pending bills. But it may be President Duterte speaking through his aide-forever who has relented in the face of a gathering social, political and media firestorm generated by the possible closure of the huge broadcasting network.

    Less than two months before ABS’ franchise expires, the President has probably thought of backing off to make sure that he gets to control the endgame. Half of his Cabinet officials have opposed him, with Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia speaking out for the need for “diversity and openness” on the dispute with ABS-CBN. The President must have found an equalizing tactic to tear down the ramparts rapidly being erected by a fresh and devastating catalyst against pettiness, arrogance and tyranny. Whether it was all a bluff or not, the President is not foolhardy to linger long enough to reap the swirling backlash both from his critics and allies.

    While the House of Representatives has virtually been “gagged” without the need for a court order, the Senate is not sitting around to wait for it to start and conclude public hearings which may not be forthcoming at all. House Speaker Alan Cayetano has simply ignored a resolution signed and filed by about 95 House members last Monday for the transfer of the pending bills on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN from the paralyzed committee on legislative franchise to an intimidated plenary. The Senate committee on public services chaired by Sen. Grace Po will conduct the first public hearing on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise on Monday, Feb. 24, ahead of a miserably-delayed counterpart bill from the House of Representatives. Sen. Poe was gracious enough to announce that her committee will hold the release of its report until the House finally submits its version to the Senate.

    Expect a live and comprehensive coverage of the senate hearing on Monday from the broadcast news media which will not wait around for any prepared committee report. And any gag order will not be able to contain the multitude ripples of media dissent that will surely spill over from ABS-CBN and its 11,000 employees, news personalities, artists and entertainers to the rest in the mainstream and digital media, and its stakeholders, as well as in numerous sectors that have become extremely grateful beneficiaries of ABS-CBN’s endearing and highly-popular programs and abundant public service projects and outreaches, as well as inspiring nationwide advocacies.

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    Her 24-year-old son is a professional race driver. Gia would struggle against the threat of danger every time Lance joined a competition. But she became a prayerful person and learned to live with a son who seemed bent on driving his car to hell. She would usually pray over the car of Lance before a race and would have “the peace that defies human understanding.”

    But on the morning of Jan. 19, Gia Binamira felt odd and could not explain why she was being led by the Holy Spirit to pray Psalm 91, the powerful Scripture for safety and protection. Lance was getting ready for the Kalikasan Time Attack race at the mountainous slopes of Mangatarem, Pangasinan. She could never forget the day she found out that Lance, then 15, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma or a form of cancer. Gia and her husband were separated at that time.

    Somehow, after a long and anguished prayer for her son’s healing, the Lord spoke in Gia’s heart to reconcile with her husband. So embittered with her husband’s philandering, she tried to dismiss the message. But Gia knew that she had to be obedient; after all that’s what the Bible says about “God desiring obedience more than sacrifice.” And yes, forgiveness is also a Godly command. She did reconcile with her husband.

    After a few weeks, a visit to the oncologist revealed that Lance’s cancer was gone. She repeated Psalm 91 just before Lance took off at Mangatarem. It was early afternoon when news of the accident broke out. Gia was frantic after learning that it was Lance’s car that went off a treacherous road and turned turtle. A medical rescue team had taken Lance in an ambulance, and when it reached the starting line where his mother was waiting Lance simply rose from a stretcher as her tearful mother came rushing to embrace him. There was no single scratch on his body. When she asked about Lance’s car she was told it was a total wreck. She did not want to look at it.