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Lawyers vs lawyer: Calida’s attack against reporter-lawyer Navallo earns objections

The country’s top public lawyer earned the objection of his fellow lawyers after publicly castigating another lawyer while filing a petition questioning how media giant ABS-CBN had been implementing its franchises at the Supreme Court last Monday, February 10.

While being asked by ABS-CBN reporter and lawyer Mike Navallo for an interview, Solicitor General Jose Calida confronted him for allegedly “always criticizing” him in the news.

The lawyers’ group National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said Calida wore a stoic expression when he reprimanded the reporter but used an arrogant tone as “he condescendingly challenged the young but unperturbed Navallo to practice law and face him in court.”

Navallo calmly replied to Calida that he was “only doing his job.”

“Calida’s actions – without doubt condoned if not encouraged and goaded by President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s persistent threats against the media outfit – reveal an attempt at censorship and prior restraint, masked as a perfectly legal action to ‘put an end… to highly abusive practices,’” the NUPL said.

The solicitor general is the official chief legal counsel to President Duterte—himself a lawyer—and the entire executive branch of government.

The NUPL added that Calida’s “feudal treatment” of a fellow lawyer based on his self-professed superiority does not speak well neither of the office he represents nor of the profession.

The human rights lawyers group added that “Calida’s showcase of power exposes this government’s utter disrespect of the people’s right to a free and independent press, and its unqualified intolerance to dissent, disapproval of any diversion from the official line, and aversion to critical yet constructive views, opinions and ideas.”

“It fits right into the mold of presidential tantrums in tandem with legislative collusion. We pray that the judiciary does not become a party to this outrageous lawfare,” NUPL said.

“History will judge all these disingenuous legal assaults against freedoms and liberties the way they deserve. In time, everyone will be given his due,” the group warned.

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te also came to the defense of the reporter, saying Navallo is a good lawyer.

“[Navallo] is a better lawyer than he is a reporter and he is one of the best reporters I know,” Te wrote on his twitter account.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) earlier condemned Calida’s actions, saying he “clearly overstepped the bounds of his office when he turned personal against Navallo” who was on coverage.

The NUJP said Calida was being boorish, “a classic example of a government factotum who mistakes his position of authority as a license to throw his weight around.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Quo warranto laban sa ABS-CBN, atake sa malayang pamamamahayag

Nagsagawa ng isang quick reaction protest sa Boy Scout Rotunda ang mga mamamahayag at mga aktibista sa inihaing quo warranto petition na inihain ng Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) sa Korte Suprema noong Pebrero 10. Nais ng OSG na ipawalang-bisa ang prangkisa ng ABS-CBN at subsidyaryo nito.

Ayon sa National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), hindi lamang direktang atake sa malayang pamamahayag ang ginawa ni OSG Jose Calida sa nasabing istasyon kundi pagpapakita din ito ng tiranikong pamumuno ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte.

Dagdag ng NUJP, halos 11,000 manggagawa ng ABS-CBN ang maaring mawalan ng hanapbuhay kung magtagumpay ang nasabing petisyon. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Media group slams ‘boorish’ Calida’s harassment of ABS-CBN reporter

A media group slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for harassing ABS-CBN reporter and fellow lawyer Mike Navallo Monday morning.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Calida clearly overstepped the bounds of his office when he turned personal against Navallo who was covering the official’s filing of a quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence.

While refusing requests by reporters for an interview, Calida singled out Navallo for confrontation.

“Lagi mo akong binabanatan ha. Lawyer ka rin pala,” Calida reportedly told Navallo. (You always criticize me, huh. I heard you are a lawyer like me.)

Navallo replied, “I am just doing my job, sir.”

Calida, however, added: “Mag-practice ka na lang. Magkita tayo sa court.” (Why don’t you just practice law? See you in court.”

The NUJP said Calida was being boorish, “a classic example of a government factotum who mistakes his position of authority as a license to throw his weight around.”

The media group said the top government lawyer’s behavior mirrors his principal, President Rodrigo Durerte.

Calida’s quo warranto petition before the High Court came after Duterte repeatedly and publicly threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal the NUJP and other media organizations said are direct attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression. # (Raymund B. villanueva)

Quo warranto petition attacks press freedom–NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the government’s filing of a petition seeking to nullify the franchise of ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court on Monday morning, February 10.

In a statement hours after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court, the NUJP said the move proves the Rodrigo Duterte government is hell-bent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network.

The NUJP said the administration’s move also risks the trampling on Congress’ authority to legislate franchises.

ABS-CBN itself broke the story on Calida’s filing, reporting the petition also targets ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., a subsidiary of one of the country’s top two networks.

Reports said that the petition accuses the respondent companies’ “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Acts 7966 and 8332.”

 “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

The NUJP, however, said Calida’s petition complies with President’s desire to block the companies’ franchise renewal now pending in Congress.

Duterte himself personally and repeatedly vowed to block ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“ABS-CBN, you’re a mouthpiece of… Your franchise will expire next year. If you are expecting it to be renewed, I’m sorry. I will see to it that you’re out,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English last December 3.

Duterte accused ABS-CBN of not airing his paid advertisements in the last presidential campaigns that he won.

“We must not allow the vindictiveness of one man, no matter how powerful, to run roughshod over the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of the press and of expression, and the people’s right to know,” the NUJP said.

The media group challenged Congress and the Supreme Court to be independent and refuse to be “at the beck and call of their co-equal Executive branch.

The group also called on Filipino journalists to close ranks around their beleaguered ABS-CBN colleagues and the Filipino people to resist what it calls an attack to democracy.

“We call on all Filipinos who cherish democracy to stand up and defend press freedom because this freedom belongs to you,” NUJP said.

“This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is not just about Philippine media. This is all about whether anyone can or should deprive you, the Filipino people, of your right to know,” the group added.

NUJP is organizing another protest action at the Boy Scout’s Monument in Quezon City at five o’clock this afternoon as a reaction to the filing of the petition.

It had organized four successive Friday night protests and petition signing activities at the monument and around the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City while its chapters conducted similar activities nationwide.

It also launched an online petition for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise that has so far gathered more than 170 signatures.

NUJP is joined by other media and rights organizations such as the Altermidya Network, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union, Defend Jobs Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and others. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)