Vice President Leni Robredo called on the move of Solicitor General Jose Calida to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise as an act of “harassment” and “abuse of power.”
On Monday, Feb.10, Solicitor-General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition seeking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc.
Calida stressed that the abusive practices of the media group has gone unnoticed and has been disregarded for years.
According to Robredo, press freedom involves the right to express oneself, as well as the right of the public to hear the truth and the priorities set by the country.
“Kaya mahalagang bantayan ang kasalukuyang panggigipit sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN dahil higit sa lahat tungkol ito sa kapangyarihan: Sino ang magtatakda ng totoo at ng mahalaga?” she said.
She added, “Kapag sinamsam ng gobyerno ang kapangyarihang ito, sinasamsam din nila ang kolektibong tungkulin nating kilatisin ang katotohanan.”
In a statement, Calida insisted that ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by the Philippine government by launching and operating a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permission from the National Telecommunications Commission.
“While it is true that broadcasting is a business, the welfare of the people must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit,” the Solicitor General said.
However, for Robredo, the petition veers away from the normal process of renewing a franchise through Congress.
She then warned other media entities and the public on how the recent move will give the government the power to dictate the public what they believe is the truth.
“Ang itanong nga po natin: Kung nagagawa ito sa pinakamakapangyarihang network sa ating bansa, gaano pa katagal para magawa ito sa iba pang mas malilit na network, sa mga pahayagan at istasyon ng radyo, at pati na sa sari-sarili nating mga social media feed, upang madiktahan tayo ng kung ano ang totoo at mahalaga?” she said.
The public, she said, should urge lawmakers to stand by press freedom.
“Malinaw po ang tawag sa atin ng prinsipyo: Itaguyod ang kalayaan, isulong ang karapatan, at bantayan ang katotohanan,” she said.
“Hinihimok natin ang lahat— pangunahin na ang mga Kinatawan sa Kongreso, kung saan nakatalaga ang kapangyarihang mag-renew ng prangkisa—na makiisa sa pangangalaga ng kalayaan ng pamamahayag,” Robredo reiterated.
In a statement, TV network ABS-CBN insisted that they comply with all pertinent laws regarding their franchise.
The House of Representatives has yet to hear several bills seeking to renew the company’s license to operate.