The most powerful man next to Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo has reportedly made sure that ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise renewal did not see the light of day before it expired on May 4.
This was revealed by multiple sources from the House of Representatives who claimed that INC auditor-general Glicerio Santos Jr has sent his son to lobby directly with House leaders led by Speaker Alan Cayetano.
The House members, who requested anonymity, claimed Santos wanted to make sure that the House would not touch the 12 pending bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise amid public pressure to keep the media giant on air.
With ABS-CBN limited to digital channels, sources said House leaders were reminded that the bloc-voting INC would be the most potent kingmaker in the 2022 elections.
Despite public assurances by Cayetano and other House leaders that the network won’t be allowed to close down, ABS-CBN was yanked off the air after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order on May 5.
In the months prior to ABS-CBN’s closure, Cayetano has allegedly been hobnobbing with INC bigwigs, such as during the Speaker’s much criticized hosting of the Southeast Asian Games (the opening and closing ceremonies were held at the INC’s Philippine Arena in Bulacan).
Why is INC blocking ABS-CBN’s franchise?
Apparently, INC has allegedly not moved on from what it perceived as ABS-CBN’s scathing reportage on the leadership feud between Manalo and his mother, Cristina “Ka Tenny” Manalo, and his younger brother, Felix Nathaniel “Ka Angel” Manalo five years ago.
Ka Tenny and Ka Angel were reportedly expelled by Ka Eduardo from the INC upon the recommendation of the group’s “Sanggunian” for allegedly “sowing disunity” in the church.
Aside from this, INC is reportedly eyeing to take over the frequencies left by ABS-CBN – five AM stations, including DZMM, 18 FM stations and 42 TV stations, including Channels 2 and 23.
The media giant’s frequencies are considered highly prized among broadcasters because the lower the channel number, the more efficient or the less power you need to broadcast. Being the first television station in the country in 1946, ABS-CBN has the most desired frequency of all.
Aside from Santos, the same sources said INC also deployed a rising power player among its ranks, former Justice Undersecretary Felix Exconde Jr. (who served as chef of staff of the late Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez), to allegedly put the pressure on NTC.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba was first appointed in 2009 but it is an open secret that the INC has been influential in backing him through three administrations.
Another major player in the ABS-CBN saga with INC ties is Solicitor General Jose Calida, a true blue loyalist of the late President Ferdinand Marcos who by the INC 1965, 1969, 1981 and 1986 elections according to his party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.