Obituary: ABS-CBN, died of fake news malfunction

April 29, 2020.

Five more days before D-Day!

It’s time to write the obituary for ABS-CBN. This is a working draft. I invite the public to contribute ideas on what to include in the obituary in the comments section below.

Here’s what I have written:

ABS-CBN was founded on June 13, 1946 by the brothers Eugenio and Fernando Lopez who came from the rich sugar family in Iloilo. Through the years, Eugenio and Fernando played Batman and Robin in building a business empire that would control key industries until martial law was declared on September 21, 1972. The biggest business was the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco). Eugenio controlled the business side; Fernando provided the political clout. Their media assets gave them power over government and the public.

It was a simple formula. But it was very effective.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos wanted to break up this control of the oligarchs over the nation’s destiny. That’s the reason why he was quick to shut down ABS-CBN and other media organizations when he declared martial law. The oligarch-controlled media had the capacity to poison people’s minds. In hindsight, he was right. And the biggest mistake that President Corazon Aquino committed was to restore the oligarchy to their perch as owners of media organizations. Among others, she gave back ABS-CBN to the Lopezes.

In the decades after EDSA, ABS-CBN was more vicious than ever before.

With sweetheart loans from the Aquino government, ABS-CBN was able to rebuild its infrastructure and quickly established itself as the premiere television network in the country. Meralco, too, was given back to the Lopezes. The family put one of their own, the late Albertito Lopez, as Congressman of the 2nd District of Iloilo, and his wife, Emily, as the first Congresswoman of the newly-created Province of Guimaras.

Politics and media became the Lopezes “riding-in-tandem” punch to gain a firm foothold in business.

And in carrying out this role, ABS-CBN unashamedly manipulated the public mind with a potent mix of cheap entertainment, distorted news and pro-oligarch programming. It kowtowed to the government for as long as its interests were in synch with those in power.

Then came City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte from Davao.

Despite the massive propaganda push in support of Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas, Mr. Duterte won by a convincing landslide over his rivals.

That didn’t suit well for ABS-CBN. Mr. Duterte represented an unknown. He was not under their beck and call. His agenda for a pro-people government didn’t jibe with their own. And so began a campaign to destabilize the leadership of President Duterte. At first it was done with gentle subtlety. When subtle messages weren’t working, ABS-CBN turned to more crude methods in trying to mislead the public.

This angered not only President Duterte. More importantly, it pissed off the Filipino people. Because of social media, Filipinos are better able to fathom the rough seas of a society constantly being stirred by the propaganda of ABS-CBN. For this, it got plenty of support from other oligarch-controlled media like Philippine Daily Inquirer and Rappler.

A sense of urgency for the destabilization efforts began to be felt as the franchise of ABS-CBN continued to draw closer. It tried to use all tricks in the trade to rouse public opinion into supporting the renewal of its franchise. Desperate moves were employed in Congress in efforts to secure that franchise. Time was not on their side.

With five days left before the franchise expires, ABS-CBN is literally dead. There is no more life left in it. Its fake news factory could not salvage its own fate. And one of the reasons is that Filipinos don’t want ABS-CBN to keep on broadcasting.

ABS-CBN hasn’t been in the service of the Filipino people. It has always been in the service of the oligarchy and keep making billions and billions of pesos in profits at the expense of the Filipino people.

(This is just a draft. It will be revised and finalized on May 4, 2020)

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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