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Rights groups, journalists condemn Duterte

PHILIPPINES: Rights groups, journalists condemn Duterte bid to shut key TV network

By Felipe F. Salvosa II
MANILA (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): New York-based Human Rights Watch has led a barrage of condemnation against the Duterte government’s “assault on media freedom” by filing a court petition to void the franchise of ABS-CBN, the largest television network in the Philippines.

The petition for quo warranto accuses ABS-CBN of skirting the ban on foreign ownership of mass media and illegally operating a digital for-pay channel and a subsidiary for mobile and digital TV platforms. The publicly listed company denies the allegations.

Shares in ABS-CBN fell 1.76 percent to 16.70 pesos each following news of the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor-General Jose Calida, who campaigned for President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 election.

READ MORE: Duterte top state lawyer asks Supreme Court to shut ‘abusive’ media network

HRW said in a statement that the Philippine Congress should thwart the Duterte government’s “misuse” of regulatory powers, adding that Calida’s action could prevent the renewal of ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise, which expires on March 30.

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