Quo warranto vs ABS-CBN franchise, a desperate attempt to shut down dissent —Karapatan

In the wake of the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General seeking to forfeit the legislative franchise of broadcasting network ABS-CBN, human rights alliance Karapatan tagged Solicitor General Jose Calida as “a pathetic lapdog to the whims of Duterte’s political vendetta” and slammed Calida’s petition as “a direct assault on press freedom, human rights, and democracy in the country.”

“This quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, filed merely two months before the expiration of the network’s franchise, is the latest in the Duterte administration’s nefarious machinations to clamp down on dissent and stifle press freedom as it descends further and further towards a full-blown fascist dictatorship, with Calida as among the stooges to Duterte’s petty vindictiveness,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

“This is not surprising,” Palabay continued, “since Calida has been, for a long time, doing the dirty work of concocting legal offensives against his master’s so-called enemies and critics, from building the cases to shut down Rappler, calling for the arrests of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants, the junking of Karapatan’s petition for writ of amparo and habeas data, to the ousting of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno through his weapon of choice: the quo warranto petition.”

Calida’s quo warranto petition comes after the arrests of a journalist, human rights defenders, and environmental activists in Tacloban City, Leyte. The Karapatan official continued that “these cases are not isolated—they reflect the organized efforts of Duterte’s puppets to shut down his critics in all fronts in a desperate attempt to consolidate his power. This quo warranto petition is no longer just about the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal: this is an attack on the Filipino people’s right to know.”

“Petty as it may seem, Duterte’s political vendetta has serious repercussions especially in the context of the further narrowing of civic spaces in the country, and they can be often deadly and dangerous especially for human rights defenders, journalists, critics, and anyone who dares to speak up and get in the way of his fascist rule,” Palabay further said.

“Together with press freedom advocates, journalists, and media workers, Karapatan continues to support the call to renew the ABS-CBN’s franchise. We call on everyone who stands for human rights and democracy to resist Duterte’s Marcosian delusions, and to put an end to the highly abusive practices of this fascist regime against the Filipino people,” she concluded.