Manila Standard : Robredo, not BBM, is the real coward

11 February 2022

By Louis "Barok" Biraogo | Manila Standard

“The forum would have been an utter waste of time.”

Last month, presidential aspirant and ex-Senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) declined an invitation to participate in a television program hosted by Jessica Soho on the GMA-7 network. Soho planned to pit BBM against his visible rivals in the presidential race.

The BBM camp considered Soho a biased moderator. Soho was expected to harass BBM with questions about personal issues rather than about the platform of government of the candidates. Rather than getting badgered by Soho, BBM opted not to be part of Soho’s charade.

True to expectations, online trolls of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also running for President, flooded social media and a notoriously anti-Marcos daily newspaper with comments about BBM being a coward, and non sequitur remarks against BBM’s father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

BBM did not dignify those unfounded tirades.

Last week, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) organized a similar TV forum for some candidates for President, including BBM, who is leading; the egotistical Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso; take-two presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson; the punch-drunk and hollow-minded Senator Manny Pacquiao; and the quintessential political opportunist Robredo.

Journalists handpicked by the KBP were to ask the questions. How and why they were chosen for the job was not explained by the KBP.

Four of the five candidates attended, save for BBM, who begged off on account of a previous commitment.

As usual, the Robredo trolls called BBM a coward and flooded social media and the same anti-Marcos newspaper with their vile comments.

Again, the BBM camp rightfully ignored those remarks.

Actually, the KBP suffers from zero credibility, and is perceived in the broadcast industry as a useless organization.

Just ask GMA-7. In 2003, GMA-7 withdrew its membership from the KBP, apparently because KBP regulations on the volume of advertising for each broadcast hour are too strict. Since then, GMA-7 has been operating outside of the KBP, and rakes in big money from the endless commercials it airs.

After the ABS-CBN broadcasting empire failed to obtain a renewal of their legislative franchise in 2020, ABS-CBN (which remains a member of the KBP) entered into an illegal deal with Zoe Broadcasting. That deal allowed ABS-CBN to broadcast its programs in Zoe’s TV channel, which was renamed the A2Z Channel. The deal is illegal because the legislative franchise of Zoe does not allow it to lend or lease its franchise to another entity without the prior written consent of Congress. No such consent has been obtained.

Like the useless Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission who has not done anything to address the illegal use of the Zoe TV franchise, the KBP has done nothing about the said anomaly.

If the KBP can’t even live up to its self-imposed responsibility of promoting professionalism in Philippine broadcast media, it has no business organizing a TV forum on presidential candidates just to promote itself to the public as a respectable institution.

No wonder BBM did not attend the KBP TV forum.

There are practical reasons for BBM not to participate in that KBP forum. BBM is very much ahead in the surveys, and his many supporters will certainly vote for him, even if he does not appear in any TV forum. Attending the KBP affair will only entice the other candidates and the journalists present to gang up on BBM needlessly, and for the most unfair and unfounded of reasons.

Anti-BBM partisans will never vote for BBM regardless of what BBM says in the KBP forum. Attending the forum will be an utter waste of time for BBM.

Even the quality of the information the KBP forum will actually convey to the public is meaningless.

Do the Math. Six candidates in an estimated 90-minute program are expected to discuss the reasons why the electorate should vote for them. Considering the time allotted to advertisements; the questions to be asked by the journalists; and the usual marginal comments and interruptions, each candidate has an aggregate of just about 6 to 8 minutes to deliver his spiel. That’s a useless way to convince voters. Each candidate is better off speaking in small gatherings where he has the forum for himself.

It is also incorrect to call BBM a coward.

After being forcibly exiled abroad in the wake of the 1986 EDSA Revolution, BBM willingly returned to the Philippines, aware that he will be prosecuted and persecuted under President Corazon Aquino’s vindictive government. BBM was not afraid to face the music. For me, that is enough reason not to call BBM a coward.

In my view, Leni Robredo is the real coward. Robredo isn’t even honest enough to admit that she is not really the “independent” candidate for President she claims to be, but a bet of the much despised Liberal Party. That’s cowardice, period.