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AFTER OSG FILES QUO WARRANTO PETITION AGAINST MEDIA GIANT

‘Vindictive’ Duterte ‘hellbent’ to shut down ABS-CBN, says NUJP

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu - INQUIRER.net - Inquirer.net | February 10,2020 - 01:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The quo warranto petition against broadcast firm ABS-CBN is proof that President Rodrigo Duterte is exhausting all possible means to close down the media outfit, a group said on Monday.

According to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), the latest move from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) also tramples on the constitutional provisions on freedom of the press.

“This proves without a doubt that this government is hellbent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network whose franchise renewal, now pending in Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte has personally vowed to block,” NUJP said in a statement following the OSG’s filing of the quo warranto petition.

“We must not allow the vindictiveness of one man, no matter how powerful, to run roughshod over the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression, and the people’s right to know,” the group further said.

Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida personally filed the petition before the Supreme Court to void the franchise given to ABS-CBN due to what he called the “abusive practices” the network. The petition was filed less than a month before its franchise expires.

NUJP asked Congress and the Supreme Court to decide on their own as co-equal branches of the executive and avoid being used for Duterte’s interests, while calling on the public and journalists to be vigilant.

“We call on Congress and the Supreme Court to once and for all prove to the people that they are truly, as the Constitution envisions, independent and co-equal branches of government that are not at the beck and call of the executive,” NUJP said.

“We call on all Filipinos who cherish democracy to stand up and defend press freedom because this freedom belong to you.  This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is not just about the Philippine media. This is all about whether anyone can or should deprive you, the Filipino people, of your right to know,” it noted.

The quo warranto petition is not the government’s only move against the network.  Congress is set to tackle the network’s franchise extension as part of their duty under Republic Act No. 3846, while Duterte previously said that he would block any attempt to extend its franchise, and even urging network owners to just sell the company.

The President insisted that the network was biased in its reporting, aside from not airing his campaign advertisements during the 2016 Presidential elections.

The OSG declined to give copies of the petition to the media, but in his written statement, Calida claimed that ABS-CBN is hiding foreign ownership stakes behind a corporate veil.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

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