PDAF Scam

Will a People’s Initiative for a Broadcast Franchise Prosper?


[Requested by Charles Michael Tapuyao]

“LABAN KAPAMILYA!”

That is the battle cry of ABS-CBN supporters that continues to surge on the streets and online almost seven months after they were off the air, almost five months since Congress rejected the broadcast franchise renewal and almost two months under the new blocktime agreement with ZOE Broadcasting Network as A2Z.

But that is not enough. All they wanted is to restore to its pre-shutdown state — at least on TV (since radio could be easily taken away to new applicants).

Other than the two approaches that will end up being fruitless and dismissed as noise, another mode is made through a petition, dubbed as PIRMA Kapamilya.

The aim of PIRMA Kapamilya is to get enough signatures by the end of this year (27 days from now). Despite the negative limelight during his stint in public office, former Vice President Jejomar Binay took part.

While some are brave enough to go outside and wrestle their pen on paper, others are scared to do so because of the real concentration of political power that will lead to calculated, certain failure.

In this post, we might ask the following questions: How does the People’s Initiative work? How do some professionals see the situation? How will the remaining media outlets respond? Are there any other ways and when will they come back if ever?

 

What is the People’s Initiative?

The People’s Initiative is a broad term that is divided into classes: a mode of amending the Constitution or a mode of pushing an initiative (national or local) to become a statute of its own, aside from those passed in the traditional procedures in Congress.

To amend the Constitution, Article XVII, Section 2 provides:

Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered votes therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

For the legislative initiative or referendum, Article VI, Section 32 states:

The Congress shall, as early as possible, provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions therefrom, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by the Congress or local legislative body after the registration of a petition therefor signed by at least ten per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters thereof.

The enabling law is cemented and reaffirmed in Republic Act No. 6735, passed on August 4, 1989.

The Characteristics and the Process of People’s Initiative

In the present case, this is considered a national initiative. The petition must include the following (Sec. 5, RA No. 6735):

  • contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be
  • the proposition
  • the reason or reasons therefor;
  • that it is not one of the exceptions provided herein;
  • signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and
  • an abstract or summary proposition in not more than one hundred (100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition.

To get it passed, it should get a signature of 10% of registered voters nationwide, of which a part (legislative districts) must be represented at least 3%.

Within 30 days from the receipt of the petition, the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) will determine the sufficiency of the petition. If it’s sufficient, it will publish the same in Filipino and English at least twice in newspapers of general and local circulation and set the date of the initiative or referendum not be earlier than forty-five (45) but not later than ninety (90) days.

If a majority passes, it becomes a law of its own with the usual effective date (15 days after publication in the Gazette or two newspapers in general circulation). If it fails, the prevailing law maintains.

The Recent Attempt for a P.I.

The recent attempt for a People’s Initiative arose from the Million People March in August 2013, arising from the Napoles pork barrel scam bombshell report a month ago. From June to August 2014, a multisectoral alliance-driven proposition wants to criminalize pork barrel fund creation and spending. However, the Supreme Court made the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

Despite the unconstitutionality of both mechanisms, Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma (who lead that particular people’s initiative) reiterated the importance as members of Congress continued to enjoy other forms of discretionary funds and often, under different names.

The initiative failed to turn out because other than the lack of knowledge of the situation, some families who had children enrolled in schools under politicians’ pork-funded scholarships refused to sign the proposition. In other words, they were threatened.

 

The Effectiveness of the PIRMA Kapamilya (present) situation

Media enthusiasts (who are not network fantards or serial haters) and related professionals (e.g. electronics engineering) are divided on this matter.

Political scientists but are non-lawyers have a split opinion on the matter, even if they have otherwise convictions, but they mostly agree that it couldn’t happen with the remaining 18 months of the presidential mandate.

Those who took up law and became attorneys have doubts about the legalistic perspective of this initiative. For one, two attorney-commentators of a radio show in DWIZ 882 kHz wouldn’t see this prosper. Their main argument is that granting a broadcast franchise of a private corporation will depend exclusively on the desire of Congress. Other lawyers have seen no explicit provisions prohibiting it — meaning a potential loophole exists that would allow PIRMA Kapamilya to proceed.

 

The (Impossible) Media Coverage

Should this particular movement happen, even though it would sound surreal and impractical, it would play a role in the media coverage. We can agree that no surviving media networks would hold ever hold a marathon for this prospective initiative as it is not like in Election Day. However, each network has a different response if the PIRMA Kapamilya gets in the way:

Surviving TV networks

  • GMA, their former competitor, would be hesitant to cover; not even on GMA News TV or their news website.
  • For TV5, where a chunk of the Kapamilya talents took refuge through blocktimers, it won’t happen on the main channel but One PH would tackle it on every radio program simulcast. Their news site, InterAksyon, could cover with updates.
  • CNN Philippines, where some of their personalities used to work on ABS, could cover in certain newscasts and some programs (e.g. The Source).
  • Government media networks like PTV and IBC wouldn’t cover the matter as their newscasts favor the incumbent President and defend with all their hearts and minds. The former may have enough time but the latter cannot as it is committed to the DepEd TV distance learning program.
  • SMNI, the “enabler” media outlet behind the fall of Mother Ignacia due to the opinions and news angles against the former media giant, would not deliver it; if it did, they would comment in a pessimistic angle. Other denomination-influenced UHF networks wouldn’t care.

Radio

As we said on DWIZ 882, this will be skeptical due to the personalities, even though one displaced Kapamilya talent (Vic de Leon Lima) was there. DZRH, where Dos Por Dos is on right now, will be a 50-50. For those who are asking about DZBB 594 or Radyo 5 92.3 News FM, look above for GMA’s and TV5’s insights, respectively. Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) AM stations will follow PTV’s path (ignore ’em).

Social media news sites

Rappler — the closest ally of Mother Ignacia as they are one of the common critical media outlets of this incumbent administration — would be interested.

 

Another Ways or Wait until 2022

Should this prosper, there would be taking objections from lawyers and they will file petitions to the Supreme Court. Let’s face it, in the end, judicial rulings are mostly decided on technicalities and often, the influence of the appointees rather than on the spirit and sentiment based on historical facts.

Jojo Ragragio’s column on Malaya Business Insight and few members of the legal academe on Twitter thought that this particular movement would not prosper but instead use that mode to review, repeal and replace the legislation behind the weaponization: Act No. 3864, a.k.a. Radio Control Law, which was enacted in 1931 – four years before our country became the transitionary Commonwealth – that was subsequently amended in 1950.

In Congress, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman immediately filed House Bill 299 after the committee’s rejection but they need a replacement to comply with the more modern framework for frequency spectrum management. At this juncture, it will be impossible to proceed as it is not considered a priority — even if there is a congressional leadership putsch after the change of speakership from Alan Cayetano to Lord Allan Velasco — and it may not be the attention as long as the power is virtually absolute at the helm of the strongman in the Palace.

For some netizens, it was their final straw and they decided to join the organizations that advocates for a total rewrite and rectification of the Constitution where its aim is to remove the protectionist provisions (ICYDK, under the present charter, media ownership must be fully-owned and maintained by Filipino citizens and corporations) and shifting to a new form of government before they proceed with this. While it has gained momentum lately, this push might not succeed due to the remaining time left until the next election and other measures to tackle within their club.

That being said, the safest (yet disappointing) way would be to put it into the wish list (open letter) for the next presidential administration — even if a candidate wouldn’t care about the heavily-defined incident during their future campaign. We hope that whoever we choose on May 9, 2022, can hear about this on his or her maiden State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2022.


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Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN

COA Audit Reports of PTV, IBC released


The Commission on Audit (seal pictured) is responsible for auditing government agencies and government-owned and-controlled corporations. Last Friday, the two government stations has released its audit report.

The Commission on Audit (seal pictured) is responsible for auditing government agencies and government-owned and-controlled corporations. Last Friday, the constitutional commission released the audit reports of two government stations.

THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT (COA) recently disclosed the audit reports for calendar year 2014 of the two government-owned stations, People’s Television (PTV) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) to the public Friday, July 31.

PTV: The equity has been doubled!

According to the audited financial statements, Telebisyon ng Bayan almost doubled its net worth with PHP 689.8 million from last year’s PHP 373.4 million. In the statement of comprehensive income, the sales revenue was slightly dipped to 133.2 million from PHP 143.6 million last year but made a net income with PHP 316.4 million (inclusive of subsidy) or 28.4% return on investment (ROI).

Factors behind such a short heyday in Visayas Avenue, according to the audit report, include coverage of:

  • State visit of US President Barack Obama (April 28-29),
  • World Economic Forum on East Asia (May), and
  • Congressional hearings
    • Pork Barrel Scam (since 2013 – June) and
    • Makati City’s anomalies (September – ongoing), just to name a few

Other than political coverage, the launch of their first Koreanovela “Here Comes Mr. Oh” (currently on hiatus), which garnered 800,000 viewers, was also behind such positive performance.

Meanwhile, her younger sister in Broadcast City told another side of the story.

IBC 13 falls off bottomless cliff

The audited financial statements reflected on Channel 13 the continual suffering, both in financial position and performance. The balance sheet dictates the worst picture with the bloated capital deficiency of PHP 893.5 million — 23.9% more than last year’s restated value of PHP 721.3 million. The most notable liability with priority on the network, the Retirement/Separation Pay Payable, accrued PHP 654.7 million (up 12.4% from last year) that it cannot easily be paid with all assets combined.

Operation wise, IBC suffered the worst net loss (numerical and magnitude wise) with PHP 172.2 million (2.5 times the amount than last year with PHP 70.4 million). Digging deeper into detail, gross income and operating costs are directly related to sales revenue but administrative costs continue to rise annually.

Factors of failure, aside from the most obvious perennial obstacle on relying EZ Shop, the sole home shopping to make the network’s ends meet, include the opportunity loss for the three-month trial of the primetime block deal with Asian Television Content Corporation (ATC) from June 2 to August 31. ONE FCKawaii International,  and the PBA D-League were not able to spare them from operational bottomless pit at the last minute.

Details of financial information on two networks are now available on the COA website.


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[Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Commission on Audit]

The Turf’s TV Zeitgeist 2014: GMA


THE NEW YEAR will be handed over in 6 days but before we bid adieu to 2014, here is the look back of what happened over the boob tube on GMA and its sister channel, GMA News TV. (more…)

Remembering Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ (Haiyan)


The Philippine flag hoisted above the ruins made by Supertyphoon Yolanda signified the resilience of the people.

The Philippine flag hoisted above the ruins made by Supertyphoon Yolanda signified the resilience of the people.

NOVEMBER 8, 2013. Surely, it will be a date that will never forget in the history of the Philippines.

Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) ravaged Eastern Visayas with 230 km/h winds. The storm cut across the central part of the country westwards, accruing 6,000+ deaths and incurring PHP 89.6 billion in damage.

As we commemorate the anniversary of the strongest storm of this century this weekend, the Turf looked back on how our media of the small screen played their perspectives before, during and after the treacherous natural disaster.

 
(more…)

Independence Day 2014: Of Celebrations and Of Questions (Part 2)


[This post is the last of two parts for the coming 116th Philippine Independence Day. The second part focused on the de-motivation of the citizens and what can we do to end such apathy.]

Kalayaan2014logo

The Independence Day logo this year actually serves another year of celebrating our boredom rather than our freedom.

IN THE FIRST PART of this Independence Day commentary, you have read about the reactions and responses of the government and the media on celebrating the most important holiday among the of five legal holidays stamped into our typically huge wall calendars related to our country (others being Araw ng Kagitingan, National Heroes’ Day, Bonifacio and Rizal Days).

This time, Timow’s Turf will analyze and formulate the reactions under the real eyes of the common Juan de la Cruz. (more…)

The 4 Bs: Back-to-School Season, Boxer’s Death, Business Forum and Busted Lawmakers


SINCE THE AUTHOR-ADMIN lacked an idea on what to write on one patch of the state of the Philippine television this week, he will go for a serious mode about the real state of the country. We’re going to tackle four subjects: Back-to-school season, Boxer’s death, Business Forum and Busted Lawmakers.
(more…)

People Power: A Piece of History Netizens Will Rather Forget


[NOTE: The author wishes to apologize to leaders of faith about the post you are about to read. He says that taking WordPress is a controversial and risky decision in his Internet experience. He will accept any criticism from this post. Thanks for bearing with us on Timow’s Blog.]

Image

The People Power Revolution is a bloodless revolution between the tyrannical State (the Marcos bust in La Union, destroyed in 2002) and the solidarity Church (the EDSA Shrine built in 1989). Sadly, many Filipino netizens now worshiped Marcos rather than the generous, merciful, compassionate and truthful God.

BOTH 1986 and 2014 begin in the same day of the year. Last February 7, those two years brought significance to the world. In 2014, Sochi commences the world on the 22nd Winter Olympics and in 1986, in our country, a snap election is held.

Focusing on the latter, the snap election’s result became a big outrage due to manipulation of the free people’s votes by the dictator’s stalwarts. Thus, a million people marched to EDSA, where the Camp Crame is located with no lethal weapons but rosaries and roses. For four days, the dictator and his family escaped freely from Malacanang.

This year, I’m sorry to say, most netizens will rather forget this piece of contemporary Philippine history. How did this happen? Such method of “fighting ignorance” includes (1) by ignoring the supposed objective of this peaceful revolution and (2) revising or deleting extremely the 1986 happening in our history books.  The methods are initiated exceptionally by the politically motivated social media scholars (PMSMS) since 2011. (more…)