A labor group on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to rule in favor of ABS-CBN's 11,000 workers as the network faces a petition seeking the forfeiture of its soon-to-expire franchise.
As the justices meet for their regular en banc session, Defend Job Philippines said the court must uphold the jobs of the broadcast company's employees, "safeguard free press and the Filipino people's right to know and of information."
In a petition for quo warranto, Solicitor General Jose Calida alleged "highly abusive practices" on the part of ABS-CBN, including operating a pay-per-view channel supposedly without a permit from the government and issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners.
Calida has also urged the court to issue a gag order prohibiting the parties from publicly discussing the merits of the case.
"There will be no other way for the SC to prove that it is pro-people and pro-democracy but by junking Atty. Calida's quo warranto and gag order petitions as it is only meant to silence ABS-CBN, revoke its franchise and leave thousands of its workers and employees jobless," said the labor group's spokesperson, Thadeus Ifurung.
He said now is the best time for the justices to prove their independence from the two other branches of government "and that they will not be dictated by political patronages from President Duterte and his minions like Calida among others."
Granted in 1995, ABS-CBN's franchise is due to expire on May 4. Congress has yet to act on pending bills seeking its renewal, raising questions on whether the network may continue operating if its license lapses before lawmakers could decide the measures.
Eleven out of 15 SC justices are Duterte appointees. Though an Arroyo appointee as associate justice, Diosdado Peralta was made chief justice by Duterte.
Calida first used the quo warranto action to move for the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018. The court ousted Sereno in a majority vote due to her alleged failure to file some mandatory asset declarations when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law. —KBK, GMA News