Philip­pines govt lawyers move to shut down top broad­caster

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Manila, Philip­pines - Philip­pine govern­ment lawyers moved on Mon­day to strip the na­tion’s big­gest me­dia group of its op­er­at­ing fran­chise in what cam­paign­ers branded a fresh at­tack on press free­dom un­der Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

Duterte has re­peat­edly pledged he would stop the broad­cast op­er­a­tions of ABSCBN, which drew his anger dur­ing his rise to power in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

The so­lic­i­tor gen­eral’s pe­ti­tion filed with the na­tion’s top court al­leges ABS-CBN vi­o­lated pro­vi­sions of its 25-year op­er­at­ing fran­chise.

‘We want to put an end to what we dis­cov­ered to be highly abu­sive prac­tices by ABS-CBN’, So­lic­i­tor-Gen­eral Jose Cal­ida said in a state­ment. The move comes as the broad­caster was work­ing pub­licly and pri­vately to con­vince law­mak­ers to re­new its fran­chise, which ex­pires on March 30.

Early in his term Duterte ac­cused the net­work of fail­ing to air his 2016 cam­paign ad­ver­tise­ments and not re­turn­ing the pay­ments, and has since sin­gled it our for ire in his speeches.

ABS-CBN, whose news and en­ter­tain­ment shows reach tens of mil­lions online and via TV and ra­dio, said it has done noth­ing wrong. ‘We did not vi­o­late the law. This case ap­pears to be an at­tempt to de­prive Filipinos of the ser­vices of ABS-CBN’, the broad­caster said in a state­ment.

Ad­vo­cates said the govern­ment move was the lat­est at­tack on press free­dom un­der Duterte, who has al­ready tan­gled with a top news­pa­per and a web­site.

“We must not al­low the vin­dic­tive­ness of one man, no mat­ter how pow­er­ful, to run roughshod over the con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed free­doms of the press,” said the Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists of the Philip­pines.

(AFP)

Staff stage a protest in sup­port of ABS-CBN in Manila on Mon­day

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