OPINION: If PDRs are unconstitutional, why did Duterte sign the law renewing GMA-7's franchise even though it has PDRs patterned after ABS-CBN’s?

Raissa Robles

Posted at Feb 26 2020 09:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2020 02:43 AM

Solicitor-General Jose Calida has made it very, very clear that Philippine Depositary Receipts or PDRs are bad for media companies.

PDRs are financial instruments sold to local and foreign investors by ABS-CBN through a separate company called ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. When ABS-CBN gives out dividends, ABS-CBN Holdings obtains part of the dividends, which are then distributed to the PDR holders, minus a management fee.

Calida said ABS-CBN’s use of PDRs violates the Constitution which requires media companies to be 100% Filipino-owned. He warned that “criminal liability is also imposed on those who violate foreign equity restrictions and evade nationalisation laws of the Philippines through various modes of proxy arrangement, making it appear as legal, but the entirety of the arrangement is to accomplish a transaction not allowed under Philippine laws”.

Bashed by critics for this move, Calida said he would have been remiss if he had not filed a quo warranto suit before the Supreme Court to scrap the ABS-CBN franchise.

And yet, in April 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 10925 which is “An Act Renewing for Another Twenty-Five (25) Years the Franchise Granted to Republic Broadcasting System, Inc., Presently Known as GMA Network, Inc., Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7262, Entitled “An Act Granting the Republic Broadcasting System, Inc. a Franchise to Construct, Install, Operate and Maintain Radio and Television Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines.”

Please click on this link to see a copy of RA 10925 with Duterte’s signature.

When Duterte approved GMA’s franchise, Calida was the Sol Gen.

But Calida did not lift a finger to tell Duterte or warn the public that GMA’s PDRs were also unconstitutional.

You can see for yourself on the Philippine Stock Exchange website that the PDRs of ABS-CBN – the object Calida’s public bashing – and the PDRs of GMA are similar.

Please click on this link and this link.
 
Please read more about this in my Opinion piece in South China Morning Post today. It’s my way of remembering the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising.

"The Philippines’ ABS-CBN network is again fighting to survive, 34 years after liberation from Marcos

"Rebel forces freed Southeast Asia’s oldest broadcast network from the clutches of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime on February 24, 1986

"Three decades later, Duterte’s administration is seeking to shut the broadcaster’s operations – unlike Marcos, he won’t need the military’s help

By Raissa Robles

On February 24, 1986, rebel soldiers liberated the Philippines’ ABS-CBN Corporation from the brutal control of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. Now, 34 years later, Southeast Asia’s oldest private TV and radio network once again faces a threat to its existence.

Owned by the powerful Lopez family, the network was shut down and turned into a state propaganda arm on the night Marcos imposed martial law on September 22, 1972. The regime used ABS-CBN facilities to broadcast via MBS Channel 4 and Philippine News Agency.

According to then-Colonel Ramon Montaño: “We were organised into special task forces. The first order was to close the media.”

To read the rest, please click on this link

Just a note. My blog post is sometimes used by ABS-CBN but I have not written on my blog for a long time. 

Also, my South China Morning Post opinion piece contains a photo by photo journalist Sonny Camarillo of the interior lobby of ABS-CBN during its liberation by rebel forces in 1986. The central figure in the photo is the late Lt. Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo. The woman behind him, holding out a mini cassette recorder, is me. I don’t know why I was so fearless then. Maybe because it was the first time I was covering a revolution. To enlarge the photo, pls click on this link

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.