By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) criticized the Office of Solicitor General for filing petition urging the Supreme Court to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the petition for quo warranto against the giant broadcasting network this morning.
In a statement, the NUJP said the petition “proves without a doubt that this government is hellbent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network whose franchise renewal, now pending in Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte has personally vowed to block.”
Eleven bills in support of the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN are pending in the House of Representatives. The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has yet to tackle the bills.
The NUJP called on Congress and the Supreme Court “to once and for all prove to the people that they are truly, as the Constitution envisions, independent and co-equal branches of government that are not at the beck and call of the executive.”
President Duterte has publicly attacked ABS-CBN, vowing to close it down.
“We must not allow the vindictiveness of one man, no matter how powerful, to run roughshod over the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression, and the people’s right to know,” the group said.
The group also called on journalists and the public “to stand up and defend press freedom.”
“This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is not just about the Philippine media. This is all about whether anyone can or should deprive you, the Filipino people, of your right to know,” the group said.
In a separate statement, Defend Job Philippines urged the SC justices “to vote in favor of the thousands of ABS-CBN workers and for press freedom by immediately denying Calida’s petition.”
Thaddeus Ifurung, Defend Job Philippines spokesperson, said the OSG’s move is “not just an act to curtail press freedom but an attack against the livelihood of more than 11,000 workers of the Kapamilya network.”
ABS-CBN employs 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular workers and more than 3,325 talents since the end of 2018 based on the company’s report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Philippine Stocks Exchange.