Duterte: Broadcast media’s role important, but right to operate a privilege

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2020 10:17 PM

Duterte, in a speech during the induction of new officers of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas on Wednesday, assured media practitioners of equal protection of their rights. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday highlighted the importance of broadcast media to the country, as the government’s top lawyer sought to shutter the operations of ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest television network.

Duterte, during a speech at the induction of new officers of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, assured media practitioners of equal protection of their rights.

“This occasion reaffirms the important role of the broadcast media in shaping a nation’s progress [through] responsible dissemination of news and information to our people,” the President said in his speech in Malacañang.

“Be assured that this administration will uphold the equal protection of your rights and your safety in the performance of duties.”

The President, however, reminded media practitioners that broadcasting rights are a “privilege” and any abuse of such would not be tolerated by government.

“While our constitution upholds freedom of the press, the function of broadcast is a privilege granted by government. It is imbued with the best interest of the nation and our people. And we will not tolerate any abuse of that privilege,” Duterte said.

The President’s remarks came just as the government’s top lawyer sought to void the franchise of ABS-CBN with a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday asked the high court to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise, set to expire in March, due to alleged “abuses” like pay-per-view operation and violation of the constitutional ban against foreign ownership.

ABS-CBN has said it did not break the law.

The media firm has been the subject of Duterte’s tirades over its supposed failure to air a paid political ad before the 2016 presidential elections.

Following the solicitor general’s complaint, several journalists expressed their solidarity with colleagues in ABS-CBN in light of the threat to the network’s operations.

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