Feb 11, 2020 @ 11:59

Lawyers’ group blasts quo warranto suit vs ABS-CBN

The National Union of People’s Lawyers’ on Tuesday said that the quo warranto petition filed against television giant ABS-CBN only showed the government’s disrespect for the private entity’s rights of freedom of expression and public speech.

“Stripped of its legalese costume, it frontally circumvents Article III, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, which proscribes abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press. It also adversely affects the people’s right to information on matters of public concern enshrined in Section 7 of the Bill of Rights, not to mention parallel provisions in international law,” NUPL said on its Facebook page.

Just the other day, Office of the Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc.

In a “Very Urgent Omnibus Motion” which was personally filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, the OSG urged the high court to forfeit the franchises of ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., saying “they are unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises.”

Also, the OSG stressed the petition was meant to stop the alleged “abusive practices” of ABS CBN.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said in a statement.

The ABS-CBN franchise is set to expire this March, and bills are pending before the Senate and House of Representatives to have this extended.

On numerous occasions, President Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, accusing the network of biased reporting and riling against its failure to air his political advertisement during the 2016 campaign.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the granting of a franchise to television and radio companies is a power lodged in Congress

International group Human Rights Watch decried President Duterte’s moves blocking the franchise renewal, taking it as a curtailment of press freedom. The group added that lawmakers should remain “independent” from the President’s whims.

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