Solons slam Calida bid for gag order vs ABS-CBN
MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers on Tuesday lashed at the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for its move to ask the Supreme Court to compel concerned parties from discussing the quo warranto petition it filed against ABS-CBN Corporation and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Solicitor General Jose Calida appeared to have now “transgressed” into violating the freedom of expression after violating the freedom of the press by filing an “unwarranted and misplaced quo warranto petition” against ABS-CBN.
“If Solicitor General Jose Calida did not gag himself from advocating and filing a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN Corporation, why should he ask the Supreme Court to gag supporters and opposition from expressing their views on the merits or demerits of his petition?” Lagman said in a statement.
Freedom of expression, Lagman said, is superior to sub judice rule or the prohibition against public discussion of pending cases.
Lagman said that the doctrine of sub judice does not apply to senators and congressmen who are in their exercise of lawmaking.
“Gag orders are issued to guarantee fair trials and to enable the efficient administration of justice, not to curtail the freedom of expression and of the press or restrict the public’s access to information,” he said.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, said the OSG’s move is another measure to muzzle critics and the opposition from airing their views on the issue.
“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,” he said.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago echoed Zarate, saying that the Solicitor General’s move shows the administration’s “desperation to silence independent voices.”
“The order to shut down the operations of ABS-CBN and the OSG’s quo warranto petition is already direct manifestations, more so SolGen Calida’s petition to Supreme Court to issue a gag order on the quo warranto case of ABS-CBN, that the government is much invested in gagging its critics,” Elago said.
In its Very Urgent Motion filed Tuesday, the OSG led by Calida asked the SC to issue a gag order on the parties of the quo warranto case after the network allegedly “engaged in propaganda” in answering his quo warranto petition in order to influence public opinion.