The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) described the SolGen’s move as an “obvious attempt to not only silence ABS-CBN but also those who opposed the government’s push to shut it down.”
By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
MANILA– Solicitor General Jose Calida filed on Feb. 18, Tuesday a “very urgent motion” to the Supreme Court to issue a gag order that would refrain ABS-CBN and its representatives from discussing the quo warranto case he filed earlier.
Calida is asking the high court to release gag order that bans “parties and persons acting on their [ABS-CBN’s] behalf] from releasing statements regarding the SolGen’s plea to forfeit the existing franchise of the network. The franchise is set to expire by the end of March.
Calida cited the sub judice rule, which prohibits public discussion of a case that is still under judicial consideration.
However, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) described the SolGen’s move as an “obvious attempt to not only silence ABS-CBN but also those who opposed the government’s push to shut it down.”
Shrinking democratic space
NUJP also sought to clarify if the press freedom advocates and media organizations, lawmakers, the millions of its Filipino viewers, and the thousands of workers whose livelihoods have been placed at risk, who support the franchise renewal were also part of Calida’s “acting on [ABS-CBN’s] behalf.”
“We are calling Calida’s intention for what it is,” the NUJP commented, “the suppression of truth and the silencing of critical voices.”
Altermidya People’s Alternative Media Network, meanwhile, cited Calida’s request to the high court as violation of “one of the basic provisions of the Constitution – that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press.”
“One thing is clear right now: Calida and his ilk in Malacanang are desperate for the public to agree with their distraught and illogical machinations,” Altermidya said.
In a separate statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said it is not an issue of franchise renewal anymore and that it has always been about the freedom of the press and shrinking democratic space.
“If SolGen Calida cannot take the heat then he should not have filed the harassment quo warranto case in the first place. He should have let Congress do its job in deciding the renewal issue of the ABS-CBN’s franchise,” said Zarate.