Even a giant should practice humility.
This was probably the lesson learned by ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ broadcast giant, as the company’s management finally opted to apologize to President Duterte instead of playing hardball with the Chief Executive that has already jeopardized the network’s very existence.
During the Senate hearing on the Kapamilya network’s franchise renewal last Monday (February 24), ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak aired the company’s apology to Duterte. He said: “We were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network.”
The display of humility produced instant results, based on the reactions from people close to the Chief Executive.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa said he was already “one step closer” to supporting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. Senator Bong Go said he was willing to talk Duterte into forgiving ABS-CBN and supporting a fresh franchise for the network.
Then came the statement from the President himself that he has accepted the network’s apology, although he is still letting Congress decide on the renewal.
The best statement of support that ABS-CBN got, however, was from Duterte’s favorite daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is being touted as the likely successor of Duterte in 2022.
She said: ”Davao City fully supports ABS-CBN sa kanilang pagpapa-renew ng kanilang franchise. Of course malaki din ang suporta ng ABS-CBN sa Davao City at sa buong bansa…Hopefully ma-resolve in a very positive way ang issue ng franchise ng ABS-CBN…Of course, alam niyo si President Duterte, maawain ‘yan na tao. Iniisip din niya ‘yung trabaho ng maraming employees ng ABS-CBN.”
At the House of Representatives, the committee that has shown reluctance in acting on the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills just directed the National Telecommunications Commission to give the network a provisional authority to operate effective May 4, or the day when its franchise would expire if still not renewed by Congress.
With all these developments, it is now hoped that the words are turned into action and the goodwill reciprocated.
President Duterte and his supporters have repeatedly said that ABS-CBN has shown bias in its reporting on numerous occasions, and evidently slanting its stories against the Duterte administration.
But Katigbak said: “Today, we want to make a categorical statement together with our chairman Mark Lopez that ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda.” It is high time that the network translated this into action via its reporting.
With the crises—both manmade and natural—faced by the country today, Filipinos don’t need the kind of reporting that only fans division among the people. ABS-CBN should prove that it is really not allowing any political camp or group to advance its interest through its reporting.
ABS-CBN can always exercise its freedom of the press and expression, but not in a manner that is obviously slanted toward an agenda.
This doesn’t mean the network will now just turn a blind eye to wrongdoings or inaction on the part of the government. But these reports should be based on facts and balanced, not just focusing on the allegations of one side.
Of course, those in the political opposition and the leftist groups wouldn’t like this idea. Surely, Duterte and ABS-CBN patching up their differences would bring frowns to their faces. Leave them be.
Just imagine the country’s largest broadcast network working together with a President that has an approval rating of 87 percent. This should do wonders in calling Filipinos into collective action in tackling the crises being faced by the country today.