Robredo: Seeking to revoke ABS-CBN franchise is 'abuse of power'
Vice President Leni Robredo delivers her speech as she accepts her designation as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs on November 6, 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File
Robredo: Seeking to revoke ABS-CBN franchise is 'abuse of power'
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - February 11, 2020 - 10:41am

MANILA, Philippines — The move of the government’s top lawyer to ask the Supreme Court to nullify the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN Corp. is an “abuse of power,” Vice President Leni Robredo said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the high court Monday to revoke ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise, which expires by the end of March, due to alleged “highly abusive practices” of the broadcasting company.

In a statement Tuesday, the vice president said the filing of the quo warranto petition runs counter to the normal process of renewing franchise. Congress has exclusive power to grant or cancel any franchise.

“Panggigipit ito, ayon sa pansaraling agenda ng iilang nasa poder. Samakatuwid: pang-aabuso ito ng kapangyarihan,” Robredo said.

(This is harassment based on the selfish agenda of those in position. Therefore, this is an abuse of power.)

“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? Kapag sinamsam ng gobyerno ang kapangyarihang ito, sinamsam din nila ang kolektibong tungkulin nating kilatisin ang katotohanan,” she said.

(It is important to monitor the ongoing harassment on ABS-CBN because above all, this is all about power: Who will dictate the truth and what is important? If the government seizes this power, it will also seize our collective obligation to examine the truth.)

Calida said “there is no politics involved in his move.” Malacañang also said President Rodrigo Duterte was not behind the OSG's petition to forfeit the franchise of the network, which has long faced the chief executive’s ire.

Defend press freedom

Robredo stressed that press freedom is not only about the right to speak freely but also the right of the public to hear the truth and determine what they value as a nation.

She warned the move of the government’s top lawyer could set a dangerous precedent.

“Kung nagagawa ito sa pinakamakapangyarihang network sa ating bansa, gaano pa katagal para magawa ito sa iba pang mas maliliit na network, sa mga pahayagan at istasyon ng radio, at pati na sa sari-sarili nating mga social media feed, upang madiktahan tayo ng kung ano ang totoo at mahalaga?” Robredo said.

(If they can do this to the country’s most powerful network, how long will it be until this is done to smaller networks, publications, radio stations and even our own social media feeds so we could be dictated what is true and important?)

The vice president called on everyone, especially Congress, to join the call to defend 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 is clear: champion freedom, push for rights and guard the truth.)

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