National artist F. Sionil Jose explains the heart of ABS-CBN franchise issue: 'Duterte is temporary, Lopez oligarchs are forever'

Photo courtesy of Philstar and ABS-CBN

National Artist for Literature Francisco Sionil Jose wrote in his Philippine Star Column on May 18 about the real issue behind the ABS-CBN’s closure.

The veteran journalist gave a deeper perspective on the true issue with ABS-CBN's franchise, unlike the popular notion that the giant network's closure was all about the suppression of press freedom but for Jose, it is all about power, money and politics.

Jose said the Lopezes who own ABS-CBN are no different from other oligarchs who exploit capital for their own benefit. 

Where their goal is profit, their techniques are almost always exploitative, motivated by money and power.

However, not all businesses (and billionaires) are not always motivated by profit. They are nation builders, humanitarians, who use their fortunes to build more humane societies, Jose added.

The Filipino novelist said it’s the selfishness of oligarchs that led the Philippines to lag behind its Asian neighbors after the 1960s.

“The Lopezes are not alone; they are however the most visible tip of the iceberg. But if the Lopez empire can be toppled. Then, it should not be difficult to do the same with the others. The revolution, then, shall have begun,” Jose said.

The seasoned writer pointed out that press freedom is a mere “sugar coating” for the issue that lies at the heart of ABS-CBN’s franchise controversy.

Freedom is used to camouflage the true nature of ABS-CBN just like the sea that hides the iceberg that blind sided the sincere believers in human rights, who have no time to look deeper, beyond the glossy surface, Jose further explained.

“It is MONEY, POLITICS and POWER – how power is acquired, how it is abused and maintained, and most of all, how it obstructs this country’s economic and democratic development. If allowed to continue, will it now return the billions it owes the government?” Jose added.

Jose said oligarchs will always remain in power for a long time even after President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term, and these oligarchs will be back again in control and to exploit resources further.

“Marcos, Duterte – they are minor incidents in our history, but the oligarchic families will be with us much longer and will most likely be replaced by heirs who will continue to exploit our country and our people. The struggle to create a just and sovereign nation transcends these politicians and their oligarch allies,” he said.

The acclaimed author said ABS-CBN’s shutdown will contribute to the “levelling of the playing field” and strengthening democracy as there are other media that can do its job.

And hundreds of TV and radio stations and broadsheets will continue to provide news and views aside from the media giant. 

And there is the infinite information the social media can offer to both idiot and intellectual, the national treasure pointed out.

“Conclusion: ABS-CBN is not crucial to this nation’s survival nor does its closure mark the end of press freedom,” Jose said.

The Filipino oligarchy is our entrenched enemy, who will always secure to maintain in power and control our country's economic and democratic development.

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