The quo warranto case filed by the Solicitor General today against ABS-CBN, the country’s largest and most influential network, has all the indications of political harassment. This is clearly an attempt by the Duterte government to intimidate or control ABS-CBN, which has aired and published critical reporting on the government, including its deadly “war on drugs.”
With the network’s legislative franchise renewal pending before Congress, this case applies undue pressure on legislators who could be forced to toe the Duterte government’s line against the media company. Already, some legislators have stated that this cause could jeopardize the franchise renewal, which ends March 30. President Duterte has not made secret his displeasure toward ABS-CBN and has expressed his intention to shut it down.
This case by the government’s chief lawyer underscores Duterte’s determination to shutter the network, in the same manner that he has gone after the news website Rappler for its critical reportage of the “war on drugs.” Filipinos and advocates of press freedom should reject this move and assert their right to a free press.
Researcher, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
10 feb 2020