By Genalyn Kabiling
Everyone including celebrities, except for lawmakers, may be covered if the Supreme Court (SC) grants the government’s plea for gag order in the quo warrant case against ABS-CBN television network, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remarks after expressing support for the Solicitor General’s latest petition before the SC.
“Kapag gag order, kapag may order (If there is a gag order), everybody is covered except those for those things I mentioned earlier, the members of Congress if they have a Senate investigation,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
He said such a gag order was necessary because a case is pending before the High Court. “If it is pending before the court, it becomes sub judice,” he said.
Asked about whether the celebrities showing support for the television station may be covered by the gag order, Panelo said: “They can always speak themselves, subject [to] the contempt power of the Supreme Court.”
However, lawmakers who will conduct an inquiry on the ABS-CBN situation will likely be exempted from the gag order, according to Panelo.
“Members of Congress, if they are doing their duty, I don’t think they can be stopped from asking questions relative to the matter. Perhaps the resource persons can be covered, but not members of Congress,” he said.
The Office of the Solicitor General has asked the SC to issue a gag order on parties involved in the quo warranto case it filed to nullify the network’s license. It argued that the television station has engaged in propaganda following the filing of case before the high court.
Panelo agreed with the Solicitor General’s move to prohibit parties from discussing the case. “Tama naman siya doon, kasi parang nagiging emotional ang isyu on this particular topic (He’s right about that, because the issue has become emotional). It’s much to do about nothing. It’s not about press freedom.”
Panelo maintained that the President has nothing to do with the petition filed by the Solicitor General. “Solicitor General Calida is just doing his job and Congress has the exclusive authority to grant or renew licenses.”
He said the President’s “personal displeasure” about ABS-CBN is part of his freedom of expression.
“His statement that he will see to it that ABS-CBN will be shut down, that should not be taken literally. What he meant is he will not allow ABS-CBN to be committing fraud against those who contracted them to air campaign commercials, that’s what he meant,” Panelo said.
“If ABS-CBN has committed a criminal act, then the President will exercise his right and pursue a case against it before the courts, but he will not use his office to stop ABS-CBN from continuing with its service. That’s for Congress to decide, not for him.”