MANILA - A move by the Philippine government's top lawyer to question the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp shows that his office is being used for President Rodrigo Duterte's "political vendetta", lawmakers from the left-wing Bayan Muna group said Monday.
Solicitor General Jose Calida in a "quo warranto" petition accused ABS-CBN of violating provisions of its franchise, which will expire in March. The House of Representatives has yet to hear several bills seeking to renew the company's license to operate.
Duterte had repeatedly accused ABS-CBN of refusing to air his campaign ad during the 2016 elections.
"Should the OSG only file a quo warranto case against ABS-CBN, merely because President Rodrigo Duterte claims that some of his ads were not shown by ABS-CBN in the 2016 elections, then it is clear that it is only kowtowing to the wishes of the President instead of its self imposed role as 'tribune of the people,'" Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares said in a statement.
"The OSG should not allow itself to become a private law firm due to its loyalties to a temporary president. They should be reminded na walang (there is no) forever. It should be loyal justice and the Filipino people and not the whims of one man who holds temporary powers," he added.
In May 2018, Calida also led the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, a critic of Duterte, arguing that her failure to fully disclose her wealth when she applied for the post 6 years prior made her appointment invalid.
Colmenares claimed the OSG "has devoted so much time to those President Duterte consider his enemies... but has refused to devote any effort against Duterte allies like Gen. Albayalde or those involved in corruption or diverting public funds to pork barrel."
Duterte's former national police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde retired last year amid allegations that he protected officers involved in recycling confiscated narcotics.
Colmenares also challenged Calida's office to file quo warranto cases against public utilities "which have a major impact on the people's suffering not only from inefficient service, but also, expensive electricity and water rates."