By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A group of human rights lawyers said the attempt to shutdown media giant ABS-CBN is remniscient of martial law years of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., where media institutions were put under government control and information flow has been restricted.
“Stripped of its legalese costume, it frontally circumvents Article III, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, which proscribes abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press,” said human rights lawyers Ephraim Cortez and Josalee Deinla of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in a joint statement.
This morning Feb. 10, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN.
There are currently 11 bills before the House of Representatives in support of the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
Solicitor General Jose Calida’s “showcase of power exposes this government’s utter disrespect of the people’s right to a free and independent press, and its unqualified intolerance to dissent, disapproval of any diversion from the official line, and aversion to critical yet constructive views, opinions and ideas,” the NUPL said.
Government machinery vs. ABS-CBN
ABS-CBN’s Photo Editor Jun Sepe, in a protest action in Boy’s Scout Circle in Quezon City, said all three government branches are being utilized against the franchise renewal.
Sepe, who is also the chairperson of the Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, said he is one of the 11,000 workers who would be affected by the attempts to shutdown the TV station.
Cortez and Deinla said it also “adversely affects the people’s right to information on matters of public concern enshrined in Section 7 of the Bill of Rights, not to mention parallel provisions in international law.”