President Rodrigo Duterte

[Pre-SONA Special] Can PTV really be editorially independent?

[Requested by MJH]

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the run-up to President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, we will tackle one of the legacies between him and the media. This blog post is dedicated to Howard Johnson, a BBC correspondent in our country and Jules Guiang, who is now in Rappler.]

PLANTITO-STYLED SONA. Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte personally delivered his penultimate (5th) State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa with limited attendance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FINALLY, the last SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte is upon us. After this, there will be no more rants that come from his bruised ego heart, right? (SPOILER: Not quite, he has more every week after this.)

His valedictory SONA will be a verdict to judge his legacy but the people had already decided before that and they knew who will succeed him for next year’s election.

Before he will deliver his last annual speech to the 18th Congress this Monday afternoon inside Batasang Pambansa, I would like to share an excerpt of his maiden SONA on July 25, 2016 (with ad-libs):

To better manage public information, a law should be passed – I’m addressing Congress– to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, replacing PTV-4, [applause] the government-run TV station, which now aims to replicate international government broadcasting networks.  Teams from these international news agencies — I’d like to mention those interested BBC — are set to visit the country soon to train people from government-run channels to observe. Ito ang gusto ko — tutal pera naman ng tao — to observe editorial independence through innovative programs [applause] and intelligent treatment and analysis of news reports, as well as developments of national and international significance.

The government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services, better known as the Radyo ng Bayan,  shall undergo upgrading to make it financially viable and dependable for accurate and independent, and enlightening news and commentary. Radyo ng Bayan will be integrated with the PBC.

As we are presently setting up a Presidential Communications Satellite Office in Davao City, PBC will also put up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao. [applause] Davao City will also be the first site of the first Muslim channel, to be called Salaam Television, [applause] and the first Lumad channel. [applause]

Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte (July 25, 2016)

Well, he fulfilled about the Salaam TV which took off a year later as the People’s Television Network (PTV) digital subchannel but the Lumad channel didn’t and became a TV program. He got the Mindanao Hub at his bailiwick in Davao City — which was opened last year — became fully operational since last March. (This is going to be used as a weapon for its remaining die-hard supporters in their interpretation of his legacy.)

Legislation regarding the People’s Broadcasting Corporation remains pending in Congress. By now, the chance to make it will be slim as the 3rd Regular Session of this current Congress will have the shortest number of session days on account to the filing and campaigning of politicians for May 9, 2022.

But look at a specific passage of text earlier, what does editorial independence mean? Did they ever try to uphold it?


Allowing Foreign Ownership or Direct Investments in the Philippine Media

[Requested by MJH]

LORDING THE HOUSE. House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is spearheading a radical plan of action for the recovery in COVID-19 and people are still getting skeptical about this.

EARLIER THIS MONTH, House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco made a pronouncement on amending our Constitution as a path to recovery from the pandemic as Moody’s Analytics feared that our country will be dead last in bouncing back among Asia-Pacific nations. Currently, they are tackled at their Committee on Constitutional Amendments with a problem on which mode they’ll use.

Whenever people think of constitutional reform or in lesser syllables, Charter Change, they are automatically associated with “term extension” for incumbent politicians who do not much represent or do not earn the trust of the public.

However, the third person in the Presidential line of succession specified that the economic provisions (a.k.a. the 60-40 rule) will be amended. The intention to place such an amendment will be put to a public vote next year, alongside the Presidential election.

It may sound radical to you, dear readers, but not for those associated with constitutional reform advocacy groups. Allowing foreign direct investments of all industries (including mass media) is a stepping stone to bounce back our economy from the impacts of the pandemic (e.g. closures of small and non-essential businesses and repatriation of OFWs).

So how does this idea apply to our sphere of mass media?

Quick PH Media History Lesson

The South Triangle Duopoly was founded initially as radio stations in Manila and were operated by American citizens. This is due to the Parity Rights approved in 1947. When President Ferdinand Marcos got his 1973 Constitution ratified (with more protectionism clauses, including mass media) and let the Parity Rights expire the year after. From that point onward, this is where Felipe Gozon and the gang stepped in to get Channel 7 from Robert “Uncle Bob” Stewart (even though the founder stayed in the country until a decade after) and the unforgettable brand of Marcosian cronyism began.

To this day, the present (1987) Charter continues the prohibition of any foreigner or foreigner to own any percentage of ownership in mass media as stated under Article XVI, Sec. 11 (1):

The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

(The) Congress shall regulate or prohibit monopolies in commercial mass media when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition therein shall be allowed.

This provision was invoked by GMA Network’s lawyers against TV5 in 2008, which soon resulted in Channel 5’s partnership with MPB Primedia to cease and handed over to the present reins of Manny V. Pangilinan’s MediaQuest.

At the tail-end of the preceding decade, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Rappler of the allegations of being not owned by Filipinos, which a year later lost its registration with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) for issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs). The same accusation is thrown against the Six-Letter Media Giant by Congress last year that put their lease in life as a TV broadcaster to its consequential fate.

In this living zeitgeist of the challenged yet the globalized economy, they say, Nadine Lustre-style, that it’s “2021 na, not 19-copung-copung.” For Velasco’s case, they’ll append the wordings “unless provided by law” but constitutional reform advocates (even the most hardcore ones) wanted those provisions deleted altogether.

Removing the barriers of entry doesn’t mean a sudden — albeit, gradually — the hegemonic takeover of the nearest rising superpower than the traditional one but as an encouragement to challenge head-to-head competition between their firms and ours and a means to diversify our portfolio and sources of funding. (For a start, we can make amends with Southeast Asian neighbors.)


What Would Happen in Our Media?

Tackling the pros and cons of lifting economic barriers in all industries is cumbersome but we can tackle it in one specific industry: the media industry. How will this result?

First of all, we cannot undo the specifics that they agree upon. For one, we already adopted the digital TV standard, the ISDB-T from Japan, but it significant deficiencies. Like in the Land of the Rising Sun, we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire wherein earthquakes are prone in the world. In the originating country, they already made the technology of the Early Earthquake Warning System but we didn’t due to misunderstanding with involved stakeholders (e.g. PHIVOLCS, NTC and digital TV receiver manufacturers). Nevertheless, if any of their expertise stationed here, then we could have set a clear policy for the whole Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS).

Operations-wise, liberalizing the economy could mean easier content distribution. For an anime fan, they want the latest anime to reach our shores (legally) as soon as possible.

The Networks’ Response

  • Had that Six-Letter Broadcaster continued with the lease of their life in the free airwaves, they would procure high-tech cameras and their transmission equipment would’ve gone into an astounding 4K UHD quality by now and everyone else would follow. *sigh*
  • GMA’s endless promotion of Voltes V: Legacy will finally be materialized when representatives of Toei Company get the checking and supervision in-site.
  • TV5, the network that aired last year’s Asian Television Awards, will probably take some cues and best practices from their continental neighbors.
  • For CNN Philippines, they will have an easier link with the headquarters in Atlanta and other worldwide bureaus.
  • PTV will easily make partnerships with public broadcasters around the world. (Good luck getting the audience though.)



Perhaps, the best case for raising economic liberalization is due to this news. In 30 days, Disney+ will enter Southeast Asian territory, specifically in Singapore and soon in their neighbor, Malaysia. And here at home, we all just wonder why and drool with jealousy and envy.



The mistakes of 2020, including the after-effects of the pandemic, will continue to persist this year and beyond if we don’t get a course of action and this is just one of them.

Of course, removing protectionist provisions doesn’t mean we have to go with the status quo as the reformists persistently believed. Pitching to make our country business-friendly is not a simple walk in the park if the leaders and representatives do not behave well, especially with the incumbent leadership. (No wonder, they wanted a shift to a parliamentary form of governance but that would be a story for another time.)

What do you think? Is it the best time to lift the restrictive economic provisions?

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Photos courtesy of House of Representatives of the Philippines and Walt Disney Company

Pilipinas, Are You Not Overentertained (and Underinformed)?

[Requested by Gian Paolo Dela Cruz]

ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes made an admission in her employer that their offerings made its audience “overentertained and underinformed” on a virtual forum last October 23.

OVER A MONTH AGO, — October 23, to be exact — ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes admitted during a virtual forum where the audience is “overentertained and underinformed” and the employer was felt “guilty” for that.

Opinions on her divulgence are very sharp as knives.

Serial haters would admonish her and her employer hardly and eat their humble pie after the media giant “rightfully deserved” to lose their free-to-air broadcast license a bit more than half a year ago.

Others had different yet valid views on their different aspects like the association of language and straightforwardness and the structure of segments (showbiz segments before every commercial break and light news item to wrap up the hard news).

Others wanted to go escapism — simply put, staying away from newscasts (even before the pandemic) — as they are fed up with the “he said/she said” type of journalism that surviving media entities espoused under the reign of populist demagoguery with spokespersons making possible spins and excuses to cover up possible harm. In other words, they are tired of gaslighting.

The way we consume the news is changing from newspapers to radio to TV to web and to mobile. All media entities have to capitalize on the use of modern technology to keep up with the times. In this era, you can tell which outlet it comes from, judging by their color schemes and fonts on their posts; the common ground on all outlets is that they emphasize the headline and the summary of the story (with the link appending). This is a common psychological argument.

Because of social media, screenshots of the trending list on Twitter were shared and so are the picturesque scenes with proper attribution.

Thanks to this medium, they are prone to disinformation. Thankfully, fact-checking outlets like Rappler and VERA Files worked hard to refute most false claims that are posted like wildfire. However, die-hard supporters don’t matter and it won’t stop posting praises for their political idols as if every act is always right in their eyes.

But things became different afterward…

Challenging the claims, a month after

One month after Ms. Reyes made that remark, significant events transpired.

Super Typhoon Rolly (November 1)

One week post-confession, Mother Nature gave a challenge. On All Saints’ Day, Supertyphoon Rolly (international name: Goni) battered Bicol and two provinces of Calabarzon (i.e. Quezon and Batangas).

While the common argument spewed by the incumbent administration supporters that “there are other media entities,” they failed to include the factor of two R’s — reach and reputation.

In terms of reach, not everyone — even in far-flung areas like Catanduanes — has cable or satellite. Internet connectivity from the telco towers is severely affected. The AM/FM radio is accessible but it does not get the full picture; television depicts how deadly the storm is and how the damage on the trail is conveyed that cannot be expressed in words.

Assuming that all networks had the same reach as ABS was, the reputation come into play:

  • GMA is, therefore, next in line and people expected better. Alas, that was not the case. Their News TV didn’t cover the swathe of destruction throughout that Sunday as, after airing the press briefing, they aired an anime block, a Lakorn and a Christmas movie (in that order), let alone covering hourly updates. Let’s face it, the channel’s daytime simulcast of DZBB from mid-March — when the lockdown began — until September was their best feat. The funny thing is that their Affordabox has an emergency warning broadcast system (EWBS) feature.
  • TV5 was committed with Brightlight Production programs on that day but they have their news advisory in the free-to-air platform but One News PH, which is exclusive on Cignal, delegated most of the coverage. *verification needed*
  • PTV — despite being the “best” media entity, according to fanatics — did not really do well; they waited until 10:00 a.m. for the NDRRMC press conference. During that coverage, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said that the typhoon has just passed from the province. People wouldn’t watch that, aside from the most obvious hint that the network’s news items are always defensive of the sitting administration (either through Spokesperson Harry Roque or Senator Bong Go on the Laging Handa Public Briefing).
  • CNN Philippines would have done a better job had it not for being preoccupied with the recently contested US presidential election. The public under class C and below would not understand because the majority of their newscasts are delivered mostly in English and the network is straightforward and deemed intelligent.

Typhoon Ulysses (mid-November)

Two weeks after Rolly, Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) battered Luzon once again and this time, the denuded terrains of Sierra Madre (the natural typhoon barrier) splurged brown floodwaters and as a result of evaporation, mud, over Marikina City, Quezon province and — at worst — Cagayan Valley. GMA covered it right this time over the wrath and damage.

In an interview with ANC the following Monday, Isabela governor Rodito Albano III bemoaned the absence of ABS-CBN’s news crew. Christian Esguerra, the anchor, lectured out that his brother (Antonio) was involved — with four other congressmen in the province — in killing the franchise renewal bid last July 10 that consequentially killed the whole Regional Network Group on August 31.

When Vice President Leni Robredo showed up and requested AFP for rescue, President Duterte didn’t show up as he was busy with the virtual international summits via video conferencing.

Days after the loud trend of #NasaanAngPangulo, he spouted pettiness in his weekly address to the nation. Going too far, netizens are enforcing the lessons learned from the U.S. presidential election, to step up the game.

An opinion piece from a guest has posted on Rappler last Monday, giving a hint on what media should do when the President consistently lies. This was written in light of the defeat of incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, who still denies and refuses to concede publicly to his opponent, President-Elect Joe Biden in the recent contest.

For one, few influential netizens easily accused GMA Network’s Palace correspondent Joseph Morong of being a mere transcriber sifting any trash before posting the summary than as a journalist with guts like his fellow, Atom Araullo (who ventured now in documentaries), has tweeted:

If one could put an American comparison, they want someone more of a Jake Tapper or a Jim Acosta over a Chanel Rion.


Back to the Question! (Conclusion)

With these challenges transpired and finally manifested by the cases and arguments from different faces of the dice (instead of a coin as it has just two), are we overentertained and underinformed?

We cannot make a judgment; we all understand what has happened. Like what Anime Kabayan (a.k.a.) Marlo Magtibay said ahead of us, the answer is now up to your discernment.


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Photo courtesy of

A2Z: Will It Save ABS-CBN from the Debris?

[Requested immediately by Inna Kim]

WELCOME HOME? A2Z Channel 11 launches today, signalling a somewhat return of ABS-CBN after their franchise renewal was denied and their frequencies were revoked.

TODAY is the unique date combination that happens in our lifetime and it will never be repeated. Moreso, today marks the return of the talked-about media entity this year on free-to-air television after five months.

Well, somewhat.

The reaction to the launch of A2Z Channel 11 is generally elated since streaming online – whether on Kapamilya Online Live on YouTube or iWant-TFC – is a hassle. Of course, some people are skeptical and extremely unhappy with this news.

But how did we end up with this development?


The Contingency Game Plan

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte began to sputter constant vendetta against the media giant in public engagements for different reasons. In response, ABS-CBN and ZOE Broadcasting Network reportedly talk about the possible airtime lease if the former loses the franchise renewal, which happened last May 5 and reaffirmed exactly three months ago today when the House of Representatives rejected it.

The gossips in news sites heighten with September 28 as the launch date but missed the specific date. A few days later, Vice Ganda announced on It’s Showtime that the rumored deal will finally happen.


Programming on Offer

As part of the blocktime agreement, A2Z will primarily include selected ABS-CBN programs and movies. Moreover, A2Z will feature content from ZOE TV’s sister channel Light TV and content partners CBN Asia (where Superbook reboot is) and Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The noontime variety staples like It’s Showtime and ASAP Natin ‘To are airing this opening weekend. The former has to enforce a more careful approach with this brokered deal, particularly for Vice Ganda.

As of press time, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Ang Sa Iyo ay Akin and Walang Hanggang Paalam will go on marathon airing before setting to weekday primetime.

Two programs launched in Kapamilya Channel will be included in this roster like Iba ‘Yan and Paano Kita Mapapasalamatan? Knowledge Channel programs will be included as blended learning in public schools has just formally started.

On October 26, Bagong Umaga will be a new teleserye under this arrangement.



While it is good news for most viewers who are yearning for its return, the big disappointment comes from digital terrestrial TV enthusiasts and from outside Mega Manila.

Before the materialized deal, ZOE TV was able to test digital broadcasts with a test card on digital TV receivers (e.g. TV Plus, Affordabox) but with this news, A2Z downscales to pure analog. Therefore, it is not available for wide access; you have to get cable or satellite (that includes Cignal) to reach it.


With Loopholes beget Violence

The quasi-return on another frequency meets with hostility from die-hard supporters not only from the former media rival but those in the government, particularly to the solons (Rep. Rodante Marcoleta and the Gang) who demolished Mother Ignacia during the 12 prolonged hearings in the House of Representatives.

Such people invoked the calls of “usufruct” or shutdown ZOE. Unknowingly, the legislative franchise of ZOE was renewed in 2016 (expiring in 2041) as it was lapsed into law without the President’s signature due to the recent change of hands. Nevertheless, they will go the extra mile by hurling the offensive against the Villanueva’s or CIBAC Partylist and convinced their peers not to vote for any of them in 2022.



With the formerly dominant media giant lost 3 billion pesos this first half of the year from the loss, this quasi-return could cushion further losses but because of the limited reach, we don’t know until the periodical financial highlights are publicly announced next year. We can’t say about the percentage that ABS and ZOE agreed on because of the non-disclosure agreement.

Former competitors in the VHF, like TV5 (where a part of Kapamilya talents are heading now in two production companies), are admitting their deficiencies from the now-former benchmark but are facing some threats before their new programs roll in a week.

In other words, will it save ABS-CBN from any prolonged damage? Well, that depends on you.

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Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Corporation, ZOE Broadcasting Network and The Summit Express

SolGen Calida’s Quo Warranto Move vs. ABS-CBN and the Effect of Media Industry

[Requested by Ian Santos]

SolGen Jose Calida

Solicitor General Jose Calida

AS THE SAGA of Mother Ignacia’s reckoning continues with less than seven weeks until their Congressional franchise expires, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN yesterday to the Supreme Court personally by wheels.

He claimed that they had some foreign ownership (which is completely forbidden under the Constitution) through Philippine depositary receipts (PDRs) — the same reason he pitted against Rappler two years ago.

We have heard that Latin legal term when Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted from being Chief Justice and lost the official ordinal numbering back in 2018 over her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) — the same document that had her predecessor, Renato Corona, impeached and convicted. However, the quo warranto can also affect corporations since they are defined as a “juridical person” in our Civil Code.

During the running stint as the principal lawyer of the country, Calida accomplished over other pivotal, political events: the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima, Marcos’ burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani and the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao after the battle in Marawi.

So what will happen if the Court heeds the call (despite the legal experts’ thought of outright dismissal)?

With the Supreme Court being majority appointed by the sitting President, it should not be a surprise if their handed decision is to void the franchise (or further, the corporate existence) of ABS-CBN before March 30 and the subsequent motion of reconsideration is quashed.

Should that happen, the deliberations in Congress regarding their specific renewal would be moot and moved onward with other businesses. The endeavors of the digital television transition could, therefore, be delayed or be mooted since it leaps onward to video-on-demand streaming. Aside from the hypothetical, individual scenarios, competitors might have to kowtow to their policies without questioning until the next presidential election or further, if the President’s anointed one (whoever that is) gets elected.

Ordinary citizens are powerless in fighting with the bad system and/or people that come into play. In addition, our collective short attention spans that hinder our remembrance are not helpful at all — putting it on ourselves to the permanent, stagnant mindset that we are labeled by the rest of the world today. That’s how we voted for and we kept it with pride: when a person does not like something because he is not doing a good job and refuses to accept constructive criticism, it becomes a permanent public policy and leaves a significant mark that will last beyond their term.

That being said, Calida is part of the planner of revenge against President Duterte’s pettiness against perceived enemies — be it from the strong persons in the opposition or from the institutions whose primary job is to be held accountable with their dealings as public servants.

When his coterminous term ends in 2022 alongside the appointer, his decisions, including this one, will definitely be a part of the real legacy of this administration (not the ones set up by the PCOO that was failed to be defended further — oh wait, wrong network!). However, the reversibility of any damage done will take more than one term to recover after leaving but as we said about attention spans, such things will become permanent into the history books.


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Photo courtesy of The Philippine Star (

Timow’s Turf Special: Countdown to SEA Games

SEA Games 2019 logo.png

For the very artsy people, the official logo of this year’s SEA Games is unforgivably a “cringe”, “uncreative” and an “eyesore.” In the end, would this be memorable or be forgettable?

AS the preliminary competitions of few sporting events in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games are underway, tomorrow (November 30) will showcase the greatest spectacle of sports in the region after 14 years.

The last time we hosted back in 2005, social media wasn’t penetrated into the market and smartphones didn’t exist yet. Today, mobile Internet access has expanded either to catch up the action in real-time or to notify if the athletes are qualified for the next round.

In that gap of time, venues like the Mall of Asia Arena and the Philippine Arena have been erected and are ready for use to showcase sports. Also, ambitious plans were aggressively concreted, particularly in the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

Before we go further behind the scenes with the present edition, let’s recap the moments when we previously hosted the biennial regional multi-sport meet.

Past Hostings at a Glance

1981 (11th Edition)

  • DATES: December 6 to 15
  • BROADCASTERS: Maharlika Broadcasting System and Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation

Martial law has already been lifted in the early part of that year but President Marcos remained in power as he was re-elected and the media remained restricted.

In that edition, their then-new infrastructure was built in Pasig called the University of Life Track & Field and Arena or simply called ULTRA (now PhilSports Arena).

In the sporting proper, Lydia de Vega wowed the country with two gold medals in 200 and 400-meter sprints, earning the nickname “Asia’s Sprint Queen.” Bong Coo emerged in the spotlight as the top tenpin bowler with six medals (four of which is gold).

1991 (16th Edition)

  • DATES: November 24 to December 3
  • BROADCASTERS: People’s Television Network (PTV), ABS-CBN, IBC and RPN

While the host city was in Metro Manila, four sports (archery, canoeing, sailing and triathlon) were held in Subic Bay. At that time, Subic was packing up after the decision of the renewal of the US naval base was rejected by the Senate two months prior.

This edition was the only edition where the overall championship was heavily contested; the deciding medal came from the last sporting event — the women’s triathlon — where Indonesia got the gold medal.

Athletes associated with the said edition include Eric Buhain, Akiko Thompson (swimming) and Bea Lucero (gymnast turned taekwondoka). Lydia de Vega redeemed her title as the “Asia’s Fastest Woman” and Elma Muros was celebrated for the long jump. Our men’s basketball team regained the cage supremacy by defeating Thailand in the finals.

2005 (23rd Edition)

SEA Games 2005 logo.png

Most readers were alive and remembered when we hosted the last time.

  • DATES: November 27 to December 5
  • BROADCASTERS: National Broadcasting Network (NBN), ABC and IBC

This was the first SEA Games that some events took place outside Luzon and first that both ceremonies were not staged in a stadium — they were staged in Quirino Grandstand.

While the official hymn was “We’re All Just One,” Rivermaya’s “Posible” will forever be associated as the popular song of this Games.

This was the edition where basketball, our national pastime, was not held due to the suspension by FIBA to compete internationally. Nevertheless, this was the first time that we became an overall champion.

In this edition

There are 530 events in 56 sports taking place for this 12-day affair (not counting the days before the opening ceremony) across Luzon.

For the first time, the bookend ceremonies will take place separately; tomorrow, they will open at the Philippine Arena but they will close in their ambitious New Clark City Athletics Stadium on December 11.

The theme of this edition is “We Win as One,” with its corresponding theme song performed by Lea Salonga:

The Broadcasters

While Pittsburgh-based NEP Group will produce these sports events but there are local broadcasters that will supply the coverage.

Initially, TV5 and ABS-CBN are potential candidates.

For the former, it was a no-brainer since they have significant sportscasting experience placed in their dossier before the organizing committee despite criticisms of putting commercials during the ceremonies (you can watch them sans interruption through their YouTube Livestream). With their broadcast franchise safe for another 25 years, hence, they became the official media partner. Cignal TV has allocated three channels for this one-off event, in addition to One Sports.

Regarding the latter, it was initially screened due to their technological advancements but its franchise will expire in four months and Congress has not prioritized it. Also, their main channel’s biggest concern is that their schedule is completely committed to competition shows (the opening ceremony is a Saturday) and teleseryes (closing ceremony falls on a Wednesday) but they have S+A and Liga to the rescue.

CONFIRMED: By secret agreement, the OC will be carried live on ABS-CBN (pre-empting any shows that follow) and iWant with S+A catching up in delay by 15 minutes. TV5 will be delayed by an hour and a half — harmonizing with the rest of the Cignal channels.

PTV almost left out

By intuition from history, PTV must be there to cover this biennial regional sports meet. This is the usual trend for other Southeast Asian nations. In the last iteration in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, we have done so but under last-minute pressure by then-Philippine Olympic Committee President Peping Cojuangco.

Because of the initial screening, the state broadcaster was almost left out causing concern for Senator Francis Tolentino during the 2020 budget deliberations on the Presidential Communications Operations Office last September 26.

There is a valid, consensual justification to include this state TV network: President Rodrigo Duterte is required to be present — as it is a traditional protocol for a head of state — and to simply read the opening formula (i.e. no alibis and no cussing) after the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee’s (PHISGOC) chair, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, delivered their welcoming remarks.

Who’s taking the slice?

Per common reports, at least 11 events will be carried live: aquatics (diving and swimming), athletics, badminton, basketball (5×5 and 3×3), boxing, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, taekwondo, indoor volleyball, and E-sports.

As per individual media entities, ABS-CBN is said to cover exclusively on volleyball and soccer while ESPN5 will supply the rest, with emphasis on basketball (on the main channel), eSports (certainly on 5Plus) and aquatics.

On the other hand, PTV is reportedly taking care of skateboarding and BMX (cycling); although they will cover random sporting events that are not exclusive to private entities.

The rest of the sporting action will be covered through the Facebook live streams, on YouTube channel of ESPN5 and in iWant.

Of course, there will be always highlights throughout each progressing day, regardless if they are media partners or not.


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Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC)

The Turf’s PHTV Insight for Holy Week 2019

[NOTE: This post will be updated as more developments come in until Saturday, April 13. Observers and recorders during this week are already designated and they already know what to do.]

Christ in Gethsemane.jpg

Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hoffmann (1886)

DESPITE our committed projects this year, the Turf is finally here to herald the insights for this Holy Week.

This respite serves as an opportunity of rest, reunion and self-reflection during the scorching heat. On that period, it is an unsurprisingly annual opportunity for maintenance of rail transits in Metro Manila — one of them will suspend its operation due to the degraded condition.

This is also the time of the year when a media monitor criticizes their subdued programming (read: sleeping) while here and the other parts of the world are on fire when they need certain attention (whether it is about their leaders’ antics or threatening natural disasters).

Main Points

  • During the Triduum, free-to-air channels, particularly on the VHF, have subdued and special programming or they can sign off (CNN Philippines is on during cable but not on FTA). There are no newscasts but are supplied with longer news advisories.
  • Aside from subdued program schedules on free-to-air channels, advertising is also limited during the Triduum (expect, the ad nauseam repeat of Nissin, Executive Optical, etc.). In addition, no political ads are allowed to be aired on the first two days minimal but the networks would do it all three.
  • Sectarian-owned UHF networks don’t usually sign off (save UNTV for the first two days). In some of their active newscasts during the period, the term “Holy Week” is considered taboo to utter for certain denominations and is substituted with another.Year of the Youth.jpg
  • The year 2019 is designated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as the “Year of the Youth,” as part of the Quincentennial in two years.
  • This might be ABS-CBN’s last, as their franchise will expire next March that coupled with President Rodrigo Duterte’s consistent tirades and pledge to object their renewal with varying (and mostly, absurd) justifications.

Chronological Order

Palm Sunday (April 14)

The rest of the networks will continue with their usual schedule while the NBA Playoffs begin, which is no big deal for current rights holders (S+A and BTV).

Fr Jerry Orbos

Fr. Jerry Orbos, who inspired the faithful with his Moments column every Sunday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is present every year during the Palm Sunday recollection on PTV.

The annual live family recollection from Meralco Theater in Pasig, organized and sponsored by the Mission Angels, will still broadcast on PTV 4. The main celebrant, Fr. Jerry Orbos will show up this year and we are certain that he will make an anecdote in light of his recent diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy last November. (We hope to God to give him strength throughout his endeavor.)

The Weekdays (April 15-17)

Variety Show’s Response

Noontime entertainment shows would steer aside their primary purpose for a more serious (and sometimes, wholesome) Lenten drama.

For Eat Bulaga, the progenitor of this initiative since 1981, their annual presentations this year come with a twist; the posts in social media (from their page, the Dabarkads or their staff in TAPE) have hinted that their offerings are shot in Mountain Province, in General Santos City and in Japan.

For transparency purposes, the Dabarkads were drafted on which assigned day they will be stared.

Maureen Wroblewitz

Asia’s Next Top Model 5 winner, Maureen Wroblewitz, is admitted as a Dabarkad in Eat Bulaga last year. This means she will show her prowess in drama acting for this year’s Lenten special.

Tito Sotto is inclusive in the draft but he will not join due to his stint as Senate President.

Anjo Yllana, who is eligible for his third consecutive term as councilor for the 5th district in Quezon City, did not run this year — his brother, Polly, will. Thus, he will act on Holy Tuesday. Had he done so, his exposure during the campaign period could violate the Fair Elections Act.

For Maureen Wroblewitz, this is her debut — her first time — to shine in such drama acting. She will be with Anjo for “Biyaheng Broken Hearted.”

It’s Showtime will do likewise sans the transparency process. Their Tawag ng Tanghalan segment will be recorded; thus, they would end at their original (non-normalized) time of 3:30 p.m. On the other hand, Wowowin, their essentially one-upped rival, will obviously not partake.


As always, newscasts on these days will cover the exodus from the Metro and the traffic situations in ports, expressways and thoroughfares of attractions.

At this moment, no teleseryes are premiering or wrapping up during this week. Pinoy Big Brother Otso is now under the first merged batch chapter but the question is: What will happen to them during the next three days when they are not on the air?

Paschal Triduum

Last year, Shalom’s Live 3-Day Retreat was supposed to air on IBC 13 but they decided to shift their broadcast to YouTube at lesser or no cost. Will they continue with their new platform this year or go on parallel with the old and ongoing rehabilitating network?

The services during the Triduum (i.e. The Mass with the Washing of the Feet, the Veneration of the Cross and the Easter Vigil) from SVD are broadcast on ABS-CBN.

Maundy Thursday (April 18)

Last year, TV5 reaired the previous day’s edition of SportsCenter Philippines but they did not cover anything throughout the holiday. It is more likely to follow this year.

Max Blanco and BF

Maxine Blanco, the 19-year-old UST student who succumbed to bone cancer, will be the subject of the interview by Fr. Orbos. The special will be aired this Maundy Thursday on ABS-CBN (before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper).

At 4:00 p.m., Fr. Orbos’ interview of Maxine Blanco, the struggled 19-year-old University of Santo Tomas student who succumbed to bone cancer last March 23, will be aired in the special “My Suffering is My Offering” on ABS-CBN.

By this evening, GMA would run with the best of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.

Good Friday (April 19)

TV5 (and its sister channel, 5Plus) is off throughout the day.

For the past few years, before the 7 Last Words, GMA airs the annual special of Power to Unite. Recently during the preceding quarter, the aforementioned religious program of Sis. Elvira Yap-Go is aired on IBC every weekday morning — which is deviation of what previous broadcasters, PTV and TV5 had practiced every week — as part of the revitalization under the auspices of the network president, Ms. Kat De Castro.

Would PTU continue their annual contractual obligation with GMA or be done at the same time with IBC?

At noon, the Seven Last Words will be discussed in detail for three hours. We should expect these discourse to emphasize or introduced by the youth (see the aforementioned main point).

On ABS, they will be delivered live at Christ the King Mission Seminary (exclusively under the Society of the Divine Word/Verbites) while GMA delivers it also live at Santo Domingo Church (exclusively under the Order of Preachers/Dominicans). IBC 13, which is solely taped and inclusive to any religious orders, already announced their 32nd annual iteration before Lent begins.

From midafternoon, the Jesuit Communication’s annual Holy Week tradition on ABS-CBN continues with “Sumasampalataya Ako,” presented by Cardinal Chito Tagle.

By near evening, CBN Asia presents, on their 25th anniversary, their Holy Week special: “Kublihan” on GMA.

Black Saturday (April 20)

As malls and some establishments opened on a regular schedule, religious programming in the morning and afternoon on that day are no longer present until the evening.

UNTV signs on again.

ABS-CBN’s NBA SabaDOS will not be aired this year; thus, this day will serve more of a movie house.

TV5 will resume to its original programming but there would be neither any games to exhibit nor SportsCenter Philippines.

By tonight, APT Entertainment will wrap up all the Lenten dramas for the year on GMA. This year’s drama is titled “The Journey,” starring Alden Richards and Max Collins.

While ABS wraps up the set of Triduum services, GMA’s last annual religious telecast is on the Way of the Cross from the Colosseum (spearheaded by Pope Francis) as IBC usually go overnight with El Shaddai’s Easter Vigil.

However, inside sources report this year that El Shaddai will deliver the healing message from Bro. Mike Velarde followed by the Liturgy itself.

That being said, ABS will not sign off throughout the early morning as they segue into O Shopping.

Easter Sunday (April 21)

Everything will be back to normal with some exceptions.

The Holy Week special from Bro. Bo Sanchez’s Kerygma TV that aired on ABS-CBN* will be re-aired on IBC.

At noon, ASAP and Sunday PinaSaya are usually pre-recorded since some mainstays are still on vacation. When they come back, the live performances resume next Sunday.

At 4:00 p.m., the Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican will be covered live on ANC, CNN Philippines and PTV. The Urbi et Orbi message and blessing immediately follows; CNN Philippines will continue to air this before delivering the first evening newscast since the Triduum. GMA will carry this as their last program for their broadcast day.

By this evening, IBC will usually wrap the broadcast day and this whole week with the inspiring sermons and hymns of joy and praise from the special edition of “Music and the Spoken Word.”

For ABS-CBN, it also marks the start of the new competition show — Idol Philippines — the third network to hold the Idol franchise and the second franchise to transcend three networks after Family Feud.

~ We hope that the observance of Holy Week will be in splendor and in serenity. ~

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Photos courtesy of CBCP News, Philippine Daily Inquirer, GMA Network, ABS-CBN

The Filipino Decides 2019: The Bangsamoro Plebiscite

WHILE the rest of the country has to wait until May 13 to get their voices heard on the ballot.


Office of Bangsamoro People, Cotabato City.jpg

The Office of the Bangsamoro People in Cotabato City is currently the seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). (Photo courtesy of George Parrilla)


This Monday (January 21), the current constituent areas of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), alongside Isabela City and Cotabato City will cast their ballots that will shape their better destiny – the ratification of Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

This date will be the first of the two dates of decision — the other being on February 6 for a handful of barangays outside ARMM listed in the BOL, for their inclusion. The provinces affected (Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato) on the second date will have their own vote if they consent their local government units’ secession to join the new region.

That being said, this may both overhaul the governance and expand the 29-year-old sole autonomous region in the country.

Before tackling the current situation, let’s look back on the brief history behind the struggle of self-determination of Muslim Mindanaoans.

The Brief Road to Muslim Mindanao’s Self-Determination

The Moros have resisted against colonizers for centuries. Since the American colonial government, it pursued a policy of intra-ethnic migration of Christian Filipinos to Mindanao, which leads to exploitation of their resources, poverty and hopelessness for Moro people.

Perhaps, the contemporary narrative (the Moro insurgency) happened half a century ago with the exposition of the Jabidah massacre in Congress. The Moro rebels wanted to establish a Bangsamoro nation through the force of arms.

As the 1970s came, hostilities between the government forces and the rebels have led then-President Ferdinand Marcos to issue a proclamation forming an autonomous region but it was rejected by plebiscite. The fighting continued to ensue.

Formation of ARMM

After his dictatorship, the 1987 Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the Muslim Mindanao and Cordillerans autonomy as long as their respective plebiscites are in favor.

On November 6, 1990, only the ARMM was inaugurated, making the only region in the country to have its own government.

In 2001, the region expanded with Basilan (sans Isabela City) and Marawi City joining the fray. From 2006-2008, Shariff Kabunsuan was carved out of Maguindanao, the original constituent province, until the Supreme Court in Padre Faura voided its creation.

Present foundations

It was 2012; President Noynoy Aquino admitted that ARMM, formed during his mother’s time, a “failed experiment.”

Thus, the peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government took place in October in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After 32 series of talks for nine years, the Framework was signed by Marvic Leonen (representing the Government, which in turn rewarded as an associate justice of the Supreme Court) and MILF counterpart Mohagher Iqbal.

Two years later, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed and by September 2014, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) was handed to Congress.

Then, Mamasapano came.


Mamasapano bridge.jpg

The bamboo bridge in Brgy. Tukanalipao, Mamasapano will forever remember both the sacrifice and the tragedy of January 25, 2015.


On January 25, 2015, 44 officers from the PNP Special Action Force gave their lives up to fight against suspected and profiled perpetrators, particularly Marwan and Basit Usman. Due to his indirect involvement, it suffered the nadir of his presidency, the path of the peace process lost public support and the BBL was killed.

This is where Rodrigo Duterte, the first Mindanaoan president, stepped in and revived the shattered dream due to the complicated frustrations of his home island group.

They believed that voting for him would unify and reconcile from the years of their frustrations, electoral disenfranchisement, and burdensome tag as the highest poverty in the region.

It was supposed to be signed on the day of his third State of Nation Address last July 23, 2018, but it failed to ratify on-time — drawing up the dramatic coup in House leadership yielding former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the speakership.

Nonetheless, President Duterte formally signed Republic Act 11054 three days later.

The changes in BOL

As the name implies, the organization of governance would change.

Here are few salient points found under BOL, differing than ARMM:

  • EXECUTIVE: The Regional Governor, who serves as both the head of state and head of government of ARMM will split between the Wali (state) and the Chief Minister (government) — similar to most parliamentary systems.
  • LEGISLATIVE: The Regional Legislative Assembly, containing 24 current members, will expand as the Bangsamoro Parliament with 80 members.
  • FISCAL AUTONOMY: Instead of dependency from the national government, they will have an automatic allocation of the annual block grant equivalent of 5% of net internal revenue. In terms of share in inland revenue, the share of the imposition on natural resources will increase its share to 75% from the current 70%.

Despite the continuing pursuance of the dream, questions of constitutionality of the BOL were surfaced and but the Supreme Court has to decide the date of the oral arguments. Thus, it’s safe to say that the plebiscite will be at all systems go.

Come Monday and on February 6, the voters in the current ARMM will receive a ballot containing one full question and it must be written with either a “YES” or a “NO.” The sole City of Isabela and the rest of the barangays included in the petition will be asked for their admission.

That being said, it will definitely be a historic moment for the country and for its people. In addition, it will set a bigger picture of federalism.


For those who are not involved with this plebiscite, we would invite you to answer our improvement survey here.

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The Filipino Decides 2019: An Introduction

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Beginning today until May, The Turf reactivates The Filipino Decides series for the country’s midterm elections. Media issues will not be entertained unless it’s considered as urgent and/or an emergency matter.

IT’S an election year once again — a midterm election where it serves as a referendum of the first half of the governance of President Rodrigo Duterte.

However, this year might be the last. Why?

One of his greatest legacies he wanted to leave behind — FEDERALISM.

In federalism, the fields of responsibility are defined, outlined and divided between the national government and their constituent regional governments.

Thus, foreign affairs must be a federal (national) responsibility while waste management should be a local responsibility.

In terms of budgeting and spending for their appropriate needs, the national and regional governments have their own taxes to impose and the rate of remittance.

For him, federalism would fit because the country is very diverse in terms of culture (ethnicities, traditions, languages and faiths).

There are so many drafts that you have probably heard on TV or seen in the cyberspace — the Consultative Committee draft, the Congress’ Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 (RBH 15), the PDP-Laban draft, the Centrist Democratic Party’s draft, and the crowdsourced People’s Draft.

The certainty with these drafts is that we will remain a REPUBLIC — with a non-monarchic head of state (varies on how it is chosen, depending on the draft).

In terms of comparison between transitory provisions, the form of legislature (either parliamentary or independent and co-equal legislature like the current Congress under the present unitary 1987 Constitution) and the duration of future election cycles, all would mean that there will be no more returning to the polls in public during the middle of a president’s term.

While finding for the consensual compromise, the prospective referendum would be too late to be imposed in this “final” midterm election on May 13. The possibilities — for now — are endless.

Throughout the next four months, the Turf would tackle mostly on the implicated consequences of our daily lives under a federalized Philippines — whether ostensibly a big deal or hidden under the radar.

Some questions include:

  • Why would the federal Philippines be an opportunity for symbol makers?
  • What would the campaign season look like?
  • How would our sporting environment respond?
  • Could it affect the religion’s ecclesiastical divisions and their intervention to political affairs?
  • What would be the treatment of holidays?
  • What would be the fate of non-Metro Manila independent cities?

All of these (and a bit more) will be posted and we hope that your comments be open-minded and constructive.

However, our next post will be dedicated to the plebiscite of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

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The Turf’s Opening Salvo for 2019

Crystal Ball 2019
IT’S HARD to imagine that the new year is the home stretch year of the 2010s.

In terms of geopolitics, we are certain that the United Kingdom will exit from the European Union in March. This, in turn, would add the consequential challenges for the remaining 27-member supranational and intergovernmental union’s parliamentary elections in May.

In Japan, we will witness the abdication of Emperor Akihito and accession of his heir apparent Crown Prince Naruhito, the first in almost two centuries.

In the United States, the new year will greet a challenging relationship between the split 116th Congress (a Democratic-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate) and President Donald Trump — in addition to the challenge for finding the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

In South America, Brazil has greeted the new year with the oath of the populist, right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro. While two of their neighbors, Bolivia and Argentina, will conduct their presidential elections as a litmus test on the continent’s political shift.

Last but not the least, three of the most populous nations of the world — India, Indonesia and Nigeria (in descending order) — will conduct their elections.

Here at home, we are certainly looking forward to two major events agenda: the midterm elections in May and the Southeast Asian Games in November.

While there are certainties in the world we live in, the smaller and specific ones, like our television industry, may or may not happen. It’s like our crystal ball.

The Turf’s PH Media Crystal Ball

The 5 Network

For this year, the Turf will prioritize T5N due to a myriad of confirmations and speculations.

In the bigger picture, their radio-TV franchise will expire this December. However, it seems that their renewal is on the rush in Congress. They’re probably doing it for negotiating to cover the aforementioned biennial sports meet.

What is certain for Reliance, particularly for this month, is that Hyper will be ONE Sports this January 9th and AksyonTV will be rebranded as 5Plus on the 13th, coinciding the new (44th) season of PBA.

In terms of the potential election coverage, they have ONE News to cover during the first five months. On the main channel, that’ll be another story. A tug-of-war would happen on the main channel between the prioritization of sporting events and the talent shortage in the news department.



Despite the success and praises last year for most netizens, it sacrificed certain parameters of self-restraint in favor of one of its talents. In addition, some of their excessive offers to a repatriate are not in touch with reality with their programming grid.

Though it would replicate the positive achievements this year, Mother Ignacia will now face the greatest threat but it’s not because of excessive offerings that won’t bear fruit or their “biased” election coverage. It’s their radio-television franchise, as well.

Ill-wishers and die-hard supporters of the President Rodrigo Duterte are pushing to block the franchise renewal and would try to insinuate them to agree with his agenda. In their own words, the network might operate their TV and radio transmission as their last full calendar year (since the franchise expires on March 2020).

If that happens, the 6.3 million TVplus set-top boxes would render useless but they already know what will be offered on iWant, their video-on-demand service, just in case.

Not to mention, the first-time use and access of their soundstage in Bulacan could be hindered due to the right of way issue.


In terms of news, they won’t be a problem — especially during the election coverage with their snazzy augmented reality (AR) technology.

In terms of entertainment, the network would have to deal with them without Regine Velasquez; for the nth time, take no surprise if Lilybeth Rasonable remains in charge and not admitting their shortcomings.

When it comes to digitalization and conversion to HD to more genres of programs, we are all waiting but we are not getting surprised if they don’t due to their constant, unassailable braggadocio.


Reeling from the last year’s controversies, this government station will pretend to act impartially in covering the midterm election and then back to their usual business.

With the national budget for this year unresolved, marking the first time in 9 years to operate under a re-enacted budget, other businesses in Congress could get killed with limited plenary session time for their campaign period.

One of them happened to be the People’s Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) bill. The proposed law is a key legislative measure promised during the President’s maiden State of the Nation Address, superseding the current charter of this network. If it does get killed, the next (18th) Congress in July will have to start over again.


While many would be impressed with the new facilities last year, the network remained a “running gag” with regard to their privatization process.

Admittedly, it will never be easy to lift the perennial roadblock but Kat De Castro is inspecting ocularly on transmitting facilities and studios across the country and studying the aspects.

With her remaining tenure of six months as per the pertinent paper, the assessments and perusals might not formulate the solutions and materialize with the shortest amount of time.


While the aforementioned network’s radio counterparts will maintain as it is and others, two entities, which just renewed their franchises, will be under lookout alert for 2019:

  • The Manila Broadcasting Company was involved with privacy and infringement issues over two dismissed DJs from Love Radio 90.7 FM.
  • Like 105.9 FM (owned by Bright Star Broadcasting Network) had the symptoms of instability after the change last May. In specific terms, they observed the format shift, program shuffling and DJ’s lack of presence and seriousness. While Brigada has a prospective plan to end their instability by owning the frequency, their current owner refused to budge.

That said, just because they have renewed for another 25 years doesn’t mean they are free to be humiliated — ethically, financially and/or legally — and passed their blame on others. (Consider that as their New Year’s resolutions.)


There are other networks that are not mentioned in this article because it won’t have any significant importance or move that will be unique for the new year.

Nonetheless, as always, the new year remains a mystery. Thus, plot twists will happen and any diversion can be interesting. The Turf will try to cover our best through our weekly roundup as we are on our full commitments.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay, modified by the author