Quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN a ‘parasitic assault’ on press freedom - consortium

Merinette Retona, VERA Files

Posted at Feb 11 2020 04:02 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida files a quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence at the Supreme Court on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Calida accused ABS-CBN of violating provisions of its franchise, which will expire in March. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A consortium of individuals and media institutions forwarding democracy in the era of disinformation condemned the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN, saying it is “vindictiveness that feeds on the country’s weak justice system.”

In a statement released the day after Calida filed the petition, which accused ABS-CBN of violating its own “legislative franchises,” the consortium on Democracy and Disinformation (DND) called the solicitor-general’s move a “grave threat” and a “parasitic assault” on press freedom and democracy in the country.

“That Solicitor General Jose Calida will abuse the quo warranto remedy, despite the constitutional fact that Congress retains the power to review broadcasting franchises, only underscores the grave threat this petition poses to our fundamental freedoms and our democratic processes,” the statement said.

"This is deeply disturbing, because shutting down the largest media network in the country will not only cause the loss of thousands of jobs and affect the lives of millions who are loyal consumers of the news and entertainment produced by the network; it will be a terrible attack on press freedom, and on democracy itself," the consortium added. 

DND’s statement has been signed by 37 individuals and 6 institutions, namely, the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication - Department of Journalism; Rock Ed Philippines; Foundation for Media Alternatives; Mindanews; Rappler; and VERA Files.

ABS-CBN, in a public statement, said Calida’s allegations are “without merit” as the organization “complies with all the pertinent laws governing its franchise,” saying the quo warranto case was an “effort to shut down” their operations.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he would oppose ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, complaining of the network's supposed failure to air a campaign ad that he paid for before the 2016 presidential election.

But Malacañang on Tuesday distanced itself anew from the franchise ordeal of ABS-CBN Corp, insisting that the company’s fate relies upon Congress and the Supreme Court.

“The President has nothing to do with it,” Panelo told reporters during a press briefing.

The Supreme Court has given ABS-CBN 10 days to comment on the petition. The media outfit has asserted that it did not violate the law.

news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.


- With reports from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News