By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday strongly condemned as “harassment and abuse of power” the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida seeking to revoke the franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp.
“Higit sa lahat tungkol ito sa kapangyarihan: Sino ang magtatakda ng totoo at ng mahalaga? Kapag sinamsam ng gobyerno ang kapangyarihang ito, sinasamsam din nila ang kolektibong tungkulin nating kilatisin ang katotohanan,” she said in a statement.
(Above all, this is about power: Who will dictate what is true and important? When the government controls this power, they also seize our collective duty to scrutinize the truth.)
Opposition leader Robredo noted the petition was contrary to the usual process of renewing a franchise in Congress.
“Panggigipit ito, ayon sa pansariling agenda ng iilang nasa poder. Samakatuwid: Pang-aabuso ito ng kapangyarihan,” she stressed.
(This is harassment based on personal agenda of a few people in position. In short, this is an abuse of power.)
“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 further warned.
(May we ask: If this can be done to the most powerful network in our country, how long will it take for other smaller networks, newspapers, and radio stations, including our own social media feeds, to be dictated on what is true and important?)
Filed by the Solicitor General, the petition asked the Supreme Court (SC) to cancel the media company’s franchise because of various violations.
Calida accused ABS-CBN of a form of foreign ownership, citing its Philippine Depository Receipts, and broadcasting for a fee and operating a pay-per-view channel without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
The franchise of the country’s biggest network is set to expire on March 30.
Robredo said that press freedom is not just the right to freely speak, but it also involves the right of public to hear the truth and determine what they value together.
The vice president then called the public, especially the lawmakers, to stand by the truth and press freedom.
“Malinaw po ang tawag sa atin ng prinsipyo: Itaguyod ang kalayaan, isulong ang karapatan, at bantayan ang katotohanan,” she said.
(The call of principle to us is clear: Uphold freedom, push for rights, and safeguard the truth.)