ABS-CBN to SC: Gag order to deprive public of ‘vital source of information’
MANILA, Philippines – The public will be deprived of a “vital source of information” if a gag order will be issued against ABS-CBN, in violation of the constitutional provision on press freedom, the network told the Supreme Court Monday.
“Indeed, the constitutional right to information on matters of public concern would be meaningless unless the people are given access to information that is comprehensible,” ABS-CBN said in a comment submitted to the Supreme Court.
“An information is only as useful as it can be understood. This is especially true in cases involving complex legal issues,” the network added.
ABS-CBN has yet to release a copy of its comment on the Quo Warranto and gag order cases filed by the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) but a network’s report is quoting its submissions to the Supreme Court.
In its quo warranto petition, the OSG through Solicitor-General Jose Calida wants the high court to forfeit the network’s congressional franchise citing several violations include “broadcasting for a fee” and violation of the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media.
Following the quo warranto petition, Calida also asked the Supreme Court to issue a gag order to stop the network and its representatives from discussing the case.
Calida disputed ABS-CBN’s statement that it did not violate the sub judice rule or the prohibition against public discussion of pending cases, stressing the subsequent moves of the network showed it is “engaged in propaganda” to influence public opinion which is in violation of the “sub judice rule.”
But ABS-CBN told the high court that the bid for a gag order is “vague and overboard.”
“Will the gag order apply to the entire Filipino people? The government is part of the Republic. Will all government officials and employees be covered by the gag order,” the network asked.
The network added that to assume that the high court will be influenced by various reports from all platforms about the issue “is to diminish their intelligence, experience and independent thought.”
“The people’s trust in the justice system is enhanced not by stifling public debate on important issues but by demonstrating the judiciary’s ability to render independent judgment without impairing fundamental rights,” it added.
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