Quo warranto plea vs ABS-CBN franchise catches attention of int'l media


Posted at Feb 18 2020 10:10 AM

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It's not just in the Philippines where the quo warranto petition seeking to revoke ABS-CBN's franchise and prevent it from airing is being talked about.

The discussion has reached other countries, with the move seen as President Rodrigo Duterte's worst attack against the press.

International broadcaster Al Jazeera English devoted a whole episode of its Inside Story program to the issue, with former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, UP journalism professor Danilo Arao and political analyst Richard Heydarian facing off.

Roque and Arao clashed on the issue of whether the President was behind the filing of the petition before the Supreme Court.

Roque believes the quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN will not succeed, calling it a form of prior restraint which is a violation of press freedom.

"My prediction is, because it is in the nature of prior restraint, it will not prosper. The jurisprudence in the Philippines recognizes completely freedom of the press. Governments may try to suppress it but the courts will never uphold any infringement on freedom of the press," he said.

Arao, however, noted: "We have to ask ourselves who controls the Supreme Court right now. On paper, we have laws protecting freedom of speech and other basic freedoms. We may be the freest press in Asia, or one of the freest in Asia but we’re one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism."

Arao said other media organizations in the Philippines also experience harassment and face multiple cases, which Rappler CEO Maria Ressa believes are part of the Philippine government's attempt to control the media.

"Anytime someone wants to control the government, the first step is to control the media," Ressa said.

"This is the 21st Century version of that. But what’s so interesting is you don’t even need to declare Martial Law to try to control media. You hang a Damocles’ sword over owners, their families, you threaten them with legal cases and you can control them this way."

ANC, February 18, 2020