SolGen move vs ABS-CBN a 'direct attack' on press freedom: watchdog

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2020 10:56 AM

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The Philippine government's top lawyer mounted a "direct attack" on the freedoms of expression and the press when it questioned the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp, a media watchdog 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.
 
ABS-CBN is "major source" of information that the public needs " to decide their futures," said National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) former director Nonoy Espina. 

"It's part of the dialogue, it's part of the free exchange of ideas and information. You shut that down, you shut off a huge source of ideas and information... It's a huge disservice to the people," he told ANC. 

"The quo warranto petition and its implications are really a direct attack on freedom of the press, freedom of expression," he added. 

The move also implies that "the government doesn't really trust Congress to do its bidding and kill the franchise renewal bills," Espina claimed. 

"If they can't stop Congress from acting on the bill, then the quo warranto petition is the way to go to at least stop it," he said. 

Congress, he said, should "prove itself an independent and co-equal branch of government." 

"To not act on the bill is to prove that they're the lapdogs of this administration. Are they independent or are they mere puppets of a vindictive President?" he said. 

ANC, Feb. 10, 2020