The recent junking of the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN is a welcome breath of fresh air. As I’ve wrote on my previous article, I really, truly couldn’t care less if ABS-CBN goes off the air. My sentiment is still the same. ABS-CBN has played political kingmakers for decades, dumbed down its audiences with its roster of inane and intellectually insulting shows, and has had a history of slanted and biased reporting.
The Filipinos can do without it, and in fact, can do better.
I applaud the incumbent for his supposed “dismantling” of the oligarchs, but it is now time to listen to the people who are directly affected by this dismantle: the workforce.
While the guilt-tripping used by the pro-ABS-CBN crowd is easily dismissible as a simple appeal to emotions, I reluctantly admit that they have a point.
Hear me out.
By “dismantling” an oligarchic regime, Rodrigo Duterte won a small victory for the Filipino masses. Emphasis on small. By “dismantling” one of the bastions of the Lopez Empire, Duterte curtailed an abusive ruling clan at the expense of the alleged 11,000 or (as Maria Ressa would erroneously claim) 11 million employees—whatever.
But this is not, by any means through his administration’s fault. It’s just how the Constitution is. Much as how the Constitution was “weaponized” (or whatever the moronic term is) to dethrone the Lopezes, it is also the Constitution that is the root cause of why we look upon oligarchs for much of the bulk of job generation in the country and why we simply cannot escape the grasp of the oligarchs.
The 60-40 rule imposed by the Filipino First Policy in the 1987 Constitution may have had the grandiose intentions of “providing jobs for Filipinos by Filipinos,” but as history would be the judge, that good intention paved the way for our own highway to hell.
Not only did the 60-40 rule ensure that only Filipinos can own major businesses in the country, but it also cemented and established the pole position Filipino oligarchs enjoy today.
As a result, they become virtually uncontested in their respective fields of industry, making businesses effectively one form or another of monopolies, or duopolies: business schemes characteristic of a working—but ultimately dysfunctional—oligopoly.
And as with any market that has no healthy competition, prices are bound to get high while quality of services and goods provided are left almost solely at the mercy of the providers.
This is why we get crappy shows such as “Ang Probinsyano” and crappy entertainers such as Vice Ganda. Similarly, this is also why we get crappy customer service on any utility or service that is owned by an oligarch. This is not because they cannot provide better quality of services or goods but mainly because with the existing system, we are simply forced to put up with how they run things. We are, effectively, hostages.
We can’t simply switch to another better service provider as there is none. It’s either this crappy corporation or that crappy corporation. Same, same, but different, but still same. Crappy.
Ergo, I humbly suggest that if we will not change the Constitution soon, then we should at least remove the Filipino First Policy through a revision.
“bUt RoNn, fIliPiNoS wIlL bEcOmE sLaVeS iN tHeIr OwN cOuNtRy…”
Shut up and read on.
Filipinos, culturally speaking, have an employee mindset. Much unlike our Chinese and half-Chinese brothers and sisters, we did not inherit their savvy for business and entrepreneurship. We don’t aspire to build big businesses, we aspire to be employees. Go ahead, ask a graduating college student on what they want to do after school, and rarely will you find someone who will immediately answer that they want to start a business.
No, most of us are employees through and through. This is further evidenced by the fact that our largest exports are not products but warm bodies. OFW-ism is merely a spawn of our culture of employee mindset and the gaping hole on our job generating capabilities. The oligarchs—admittedly the major job generators in the country—can only do so much.
Our ever-ballooning population combined with the number of major business players in the country (i.e. the oligarchs, again) being countable with one’s fingers make for an equation of a simply unsustainable discrepancy between job hunters and jobs with actual competitive salary.
However, open the economy to Foreign Direct Investors (FDIs) by removing the 60-40 rule and a healthy competition can be foreseen to follow suit. With the entry of foreign competitors, local players will be forced to shape up and actually provide better services lest they risk losing their customers to other service providers.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, job seekers will then enjoy more diverse opportunities as there are now more players in the field. In the similar vein, consumers will no longer be held hostage by mediocre services and skyrocketing prices.
This is by no means a magic bullet solution, though. Government agencies will still be required to shape up. Just because a healthy competition is established, it does not mean that abuses will no longer be committed. But I digress.
Going back to ABS-CBN and the “plight” of mass media, I would defer to the wisdom of the framers of the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution provided that only Filipinos can own mass media outfits as the Fourth Estate, in all its powers, can be used by a foreign country as an invasive propaganda machine. Here, I will be taking a shot at and making an example of Rappler—a supposed “mass media entity” that was found to have been stained with foreign ownership by the Omidyar Network, and is currently embattled with not only tax evasion charges but also libel cases due to its penchant for slanted reporting.
But perhaps we can at least provide some form of laxity in the definition of “mass media” and instead limit ownership of news outlets and all other informational media to Filipinos and the government; and allow ownership of strictly entertainment media to both Filipinos and foreigners.
It’s just a suggestion; feel free to take it with a grain of salt.
Ultimately, the only way I can see for change to truly come is not to simply change the people who are currently in power but to overhaul the system itself. Let’s not go for band-aid solutions presented by promises of politicians during elections but instead think of the long-term. Change has come under the Duterte administration. The question is: How long will it last?
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