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Human Rights Watch slams Duterte’s ‘misuse’ of powers vs ABS-CBN

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday decried President Rodrigo Duterte’s “apparent misuse of regulatory powers” following the government’s filing of a quo warranto petition against broadcast network ABS-CBN.

“President Duterte’s administration should cease its politically motivated legal actions against the network,” HRW Philippines Researcher Carlos Conde said in a statement.

“The administration’s attempt to cancel ABS-CBN’s franchise or deny its extension is not just an attack on a single network, but an all-out assault on media freedom,” Conde said.

HRW added that the United Nations Human Rights Committee had urged governments to “avoid imposing onerous licensing conditions… on the broadcast media.”

Conde also said that complaints against broadcast networks should be filed with the National Telecommunications Commission instead of the Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday asked the Supreme Court to forfeit the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. 

Malacañang denied claims that the government had encroached on the power of Congress by filing the quo warranto petition. 

“Causing the forfeiture of a franchise is different from not granting a franchise. The former is exercised by the Office of the Solicitor General in accordance with its legal mandate, while the latter is undertaken by Congress pursuant to its legislative powers,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. — Julia Mari Ornedo/DVM, GMA News