Palace journos deplore shots vs press freedom amid ABS-CBN franchise issue
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) on Wednesday expressed support to media network giant ABS-CBN after Solicitor General Jose Calida sought the cancellation of its legislative franchise.
In a statement, MPC stressed that it stands for the protection of the Constitutionally-backed Freedom of the Press and Right to Information.
“In light of the recent developments, particularly to ABS-CBN’s franchise issue, the MPC deplores any attempt to curtail these freedoms, in any way and form,” it said.
Calida, the Duterte government’s top lawyer, has asked the Supreme Court to revoke the existing franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., for allegedly violating the rules set by Congress.
Several bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years remain pending before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises. Its existing franchise will expire on March 30.
MPC said it has taken a stand against threats on members of the press and will continue to firmly advocate respect for press freedom as an “act of solidarity” with ABS-CBN.
“In recent years, the MPC has taken a stand against threats and attacks on press freedom, including efforts to spread fake news and discredit the traditional media. Once more, the MPC firmly advocates respect for press freedom as an act of solidarity with ABS-CBN,” MPC said.
MPC vowed to “remain vigilant against attempts to weaponize legal remedies and processes to suppress free expression” which it called a “key component of a healthy democracy and a right enshrined in the constitution.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly vowed to put the media network and its subsidiaries out of business due to its failure to air his presidential campaign advertisements in 2016.
Critics have said the President is on the warpath against ABS-CBN and other media entities critical of his policies, particularly his brutal drug war that has drawn local and international condemnation.
But Duterte’s spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo claimed the President’s threats are part of his freedom of expression and have nothing to do with Calida’s move.
Edited by KGA
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