Withdraw gag order plea vs ABS-CBN, Amnesty International says

20-Feb-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

An international human rights watchdog called for the withdrawal of Solicitor general Jose Calida’s “reprehensible” motion for the issuance of gag order on the government’s petition for the revocation of franchise of network ABS-CBN.

Amnesty International Regional director Nicholas Bequelin said that the gag order, “a clear attempt to silence critics,” will set a “very dangerous precedent in violation of the right to freedom of expression.”

In a release Tuesday night, Bequelin called the gag order plea filed by Philippine government’s chief lawyer a request “to prevent people from freely discussing issues of public interest such as media freedom, and ongoing human rights violations in the country.”

Calida filed a Very Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Gag Order Tuesday morning, the same day that the Supreme Court justices meet for a full court session.

He accused the network, whose franchise ending in a month and he wanted revoked, of engaging in “propaganda in clear attempt to elicit public sympathy, sway public opinion, and, ultimately influence the resolution of the case.”

Calida listed explainers and reports of the network’s journalists on his quo warranto petition, “commentaries” of ABS-CBN and posts by its talents and other personalities as “instances” where the broadcast company violated the sub judice rule.

The sub judice rule is defined by jurisprudence as a rule that “restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.”

Amnesty International’s Bequelin slammed Calida’s motion and said that “it is unacceptable for the authorities to blatantly attempt to restrict freedom of expression and then expect people in the Philippines to simply remain silent.”

He said that it would be better for the Philippine government to listen and address the criticism it has been receiving instead of “resorting to legal theatrics to suppress human rights.”

Calida’s quo warranto vs ABS-CBN franchise

With a little over a month to renew its legislative franchise, Calida filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN Corp. and asked the SC to revoke its franchise on February 11.

In a statement on the filing, Calida said: “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years.”

ABS-CBN is due to file its comment on Calida’s quo warranto petition on February 24.



Category: Philippines

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