MANILA - Amnesty International on Friday criticized the Duterte administration's efforts to "clamp down" media and curtail freedom of expression in the country, amid the threat to shut down broadcast giant ABS-CBN by not renewing its franchise before its expiration.
"Amnesty International calls on the government to immediately end any moves to shut down ABS-CBN, as well as other media networks in the country and urges it to respect, protect and fulfill the right to freedom [of] expression and media freedom," the human rights group said in a statement.
"[We view] the government against a media network with alarm, seeing it as a sign of the further deterioration of the country's human rights situation."
The government's top counsel, Solicitor General Jose Calida, earlier filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court invalidating ABS-CBN's current license.
This, as several bills seeking an extension of ABS-CBN's franchise -- which will expire on March 30, 2020 -- remain pending in Congress despite public calls to tackle the issue of the network's renewal.
"The petition filed by the Solicitor General follows repeated attacks against ABS-CBN by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself," Amnesty said.
Duterte has repeatedly said he will block the franchise renewal, citing its alleged biased reporting and failure to air his political advertisement during the 2016 presidential elections campaign period.
Amnesty said the latest move of the Duterte administration against a media network parallels with that of the attacks at online news platform Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa, after the outlet reported in-depth investigative stories on the President's violent drug war, which has resulted to thousands of dead drug personalities, and even casualties.
The organization called on the government to stop its "relentless efforts to muzzle journalists and media organizations."
"The Duterte administration should end its relentless attacks on human rights and human law," Amnesty said.