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Yes to press freedom, but no to tax evaders and swindlers

By Nimfa Estrellado
Straight Talk
February 15, 2020

A photo showing the anchors of GMA News wearing the colors of the embattled broadcast network ABS-CBN during their live newscast went viral on social media Tuesday night, February 11, 2020.

When the threat to freedom of speech and freedom of the press is real, there is no competitor for business. All unified stakeholder groups face one common enemy.

Coincidence and unintentional? Or media solidarity on the assault of the Freedom of the Press?

While we are making noise about Novel Coronavirus, the eruption of Taal Volcano, Oscars and so on, the Duterte government has just asked the Philippines Supreme Court (SC) to revoke the license of the largest pillar in our entertainment and media sector, ABS-CBN.

The ABS-CBN's destiny is in doubt as its franchise is set to expire on March 30, 2020, and yet for another 25 years, Congress has not discussed bills relating to its renewal.

Besides, Solicitor General Jose Calida recently filed a quo warranto petition before the SC asking for the cancelation of the ABS-CBN franchise.

The Duterte government claims that ABS-CBN is foreign-owned primarily and erroneously, and should therefore not possess a media franchise. Comfortable sound? It is the same misrepresentation that they filed against Rappler.

By SolGen Jose Calida, the Duterte government uses a petition for quo warranto, the same tool that they used to unseat former chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno.

According to Anti ABS-CBN, this large network is also one of the largest tax evaders and abusive to its employees, saying that their franchise may have irregularities. I don't think we can say that unless you are a legal expert that knows the law better than the SC.

Let the SC of the Philippines do their job. Let them interpret the law and decide the matter. I am not legally entitled to a quo warranto and I do not know what it is. But I do agree that upholding fair and impartial justice will be the duty and obligation of the SC. Whether ABS-CBN is found guilty or not found guilty then be it. The law is harsh but it is the law.

Atty. Sixto Dy Jr. from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Office of the Deputy Commission for Operations disclosed that all foreign-based Pogo licensees are not paying their franchise tax.

Is there a talent from ABS-CBN that is genuinely awake and brave enough to speak honestly about the real issue of the franchise right to be broadcast, plus the network's non-payment of taxes and violation of the relevant laws, without resorting to objective subjects such as Freedom of the Press?

What do we all expect? They're not gonna bite the hand that feeds them.

Or maybe it's time to go all-in to online streaming and turn the tables around. The whole idea or necessity of a franchise is anti-competitive and unethical. When a corporation enters into a tax arrangement with BIR, it only means that the company has a tax liability. ABS-CBN had been naming how much they had paid for their tax settlements. What they are not telling us how much their actual tax deficiency is.

Won't having fewer TV stations makes it anti-competitive anyway? Are promoting this now and breaking our law? Just a thought relax.

With or without franchise ABS-CBN will continue on social media says, company prexy.

I’m all press freedom. But I’m against the tax evaders and swindling.

I know in my heart that ABS-CBN did good for our country in so many ways. It's BIR loss if they don't see it. No one is perfect. When the BIR said ABS-CBN has to settle the understatement in the payment of taxes, they remitted or settled the required amount as computed.

Why is the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte government doing this? Is President Duterte has a deep grudge against ABS-CBN?

This is glaring extortion for his gain, which is a misuse of his position. This is an assault on freedom of the press and the rule of law — an example of how the Duterte Government is once again manipulating our laws to suit its whims and its profits.

This quo warranto vs. ABS-CBN cements a chilling tone, telling stories that don't suit the government's narrative, and you're out. That independent and critical journalism—the only journalism any citizenry deserves—has no place in Duterte country. Why question it now when ABS-CBN has been in service since 1953? This is 67 years of service. It's 9 presidents. This is harassment.

The reason I am against it closing is that a lot of people is depending on ABS-CBN for their livelihood. Imagine hundreds or thousands of people losing their jobs. We have the right to honest and fair journalism. Being the biggest network they should also be more responsible and credible media outlets.

Philippine democracy is in a serious threat. Someday you will realize why we are standing for the truth. This will also be bad for the economy. If there is no competition there will be no progress. Why attack now? can he just focus on more important things?

They said there is No Politics here, but look who filed the case, the SolGen himself, no single media company is fair. I bet, but of course, we all know ABS-CBN is not 100% Pro Duterte.

Duterte hates those, who refuse to do his bidding. We must not let history repeat itself. 3 of the biggest mainstream media outfits, ABS-CBN, Rappler, and Inquirer, are under attack. Duterte wants to take them down. He wants to control the narrative. Take a stand for what's right and let's fight to end slavery together.


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