CAGAYAN de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez Monday, February 10, said the quo warranto petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against ASB-CBN franchise is “unconstitutional.”
Rodriguez said the petition violates the separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of government.
“It is an unconstitutional encroachment of the exclusive power of Congress to grant franchises subject to amendment, alteration or repeal also by Congress when the common good so requires,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the executive branch through the OSG cannot initiate franchise cancellation because this function belongs to the legislature.
“It is likewise an assault on the constitutional mandate of press freedom,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the quo warranto case filed by the Solicitor General against ABS-CBN has all the indications of political harassment.
Carlos Conde, HRW-Asia Division researcher, said the case is “clearly an attempt by the Duterte government to intimidate or control ABS-CBN, which has aired and published critical reporting on the government, including its deadly war on drugs,”
Conde said the case applies undue pressure on legislators who could be forced to toe the Duterte government’s line against the media company.
“Already, some legislators have stated that this cause could jeopardize the franchise renewal, which ends March 30. President Duterte has not made secret his displeasure toward ABS-CBN and has expressed his intention to shut it down,” he said.
“This case by the government’s chief lawyer underscores Duterte’s determination to shutter the network, in the same manner that he has gone after the news website Rappler for its critical reportage of the ‘war on drugs’,” he said.
“Filipinos and advocates of press freedom should reject this move and assert their right to a free press,” he added.
THE Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday, February 10, filed before the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition seeking to revoke the legislative franchise of television network ABS-CBN Corporation.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, in the petition, said the network and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. have been broadcasting for a fee, which is beyond the scope of its legislative franchise.
“ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by State when it launched and operated a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit 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,” Calida said in a statement.
The OSG likened the network’s violation to that of Rappler when it supposedly issued Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) through ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation to foreigners, violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.