Vergel Santos, a board member of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, is not thoroughly convinced that President Rodrigo Duterte had nothing to do with Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Santos reiterated that Duterte has been threatening the giant network with its franchise renewal even before he became the President.
Considering the statement of Duterte before he won in the election that he has collected evidence regarding ABS-CBN’s flaws, Santos believes that this is a personal vendetta, no matter what Salvador Panelo claims that Duterte is not associated with Calida’s petition.
“You can very well see the overwhelming evidence of this being a personal case of personal vendetta. We know very well that the President has been warning, threatening to throw away the ABS-CBN franchise. In fact, it’s so ridiculous that the President started issuing this warning even before he became President. It seems to be quite inconceivable for Mr. Duterte even before he could become President to have collected evidence pointing to some kind of flaws in the granting of the franchise of ABS-CBN. This is clearly whatever Mr. Calida, Mr. Panelo say about the President not having to do with this at all, that will not wash.”
Santos emphasized that the evidence that Duterte is acting out of spite is overwhelming.
He continued: “The evidence is simply overwhelming this is a personal case, and in fact this is modern case of law a grand political case, this is part of a design to get all the impediments off the way for the President, so he could go on either perpetuating himself in power or getting a surrogate to replace him and guarantee him freedom from accountability.”
Santos firmly believes that no matter what station it would be, for as long as it aims to provide cumulative reports and criticism against the Duterte administration, it’s definitely a problem and hindrance for the President from pursuing his plans.
“Whether you be ABS-CBN, Inquirer, Rappler you are out of the way. The cumulative reporting and criticisms of these three are truly professional organizations should be a problem for Mr. Duterte.”
Meanwhile, Santos described SolGen Jose Calida as a one-trick pony trying to establish himself through the help of the Supreme Court to make things easier and possible for him.
“He’s a one-trick pony, a co-warrant pony, he wants to establish of himself of some sort but, you see the validation of that specialization is questionable because, he has a friendly Supreme Court giving due course to his petitions and this is probably one of those.”
Santos explained further, “This is not only a violation of press freedom, it is the suppression of press freedom. We must understand that press freedom is first in the rank in the hierarchy of freedoms, it is what defines a democracy effectively…”
Santos can only envision two types of media organizations during these tough times for ABS-CBN in obtaining its franchise renewal.
It may divide the media into two categories, as one allowed to be co-opted while the other remains to be professional and act on their convictions and comply with the oath they have taken.
“I must say it’s discouraging to see the polling numbers, you see the President polling very very high and I don’t know whether this case will make any difference but one of my fears is that the media are not one on this. There are media organizations, there are those who have allowed themselves to be co-opted not only co-opted but allowed themselves to be dragged by the nose by the ruling regime and there are those on the other side who would act on their convictions and their professional oaths and continue to practice journalism in a proper way.”