Rappler co-founder questions ‘guns blazing’ legal attack on top network

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Pacific Media Watch

The Philippines top state lawyer has filed a lawsuit against the country’s key television broadcaster with “guns blazing” but he ought to be devoting more effort on governance, says Rappler co-founder and managing editor Glenda M. Gloria.

Gloria, who has been announced as a keynote speaker for the Asian Congress for Media and Communication (ACMC) in Auckland later this year, made the criticism in her latest Beyond the Spin column.

Rappler and the top network ABS-CBN, which has 11,000 employees with their jobs on the line, have been under constant attack by President Rodrigo Duterte during his presidency.

READ MORE: ACMC Change, Adaptation and Innovation: Media, Communication and Culture conference

In an article entitled “Calida’s guns”, Gloria said Solicitor-General Jose Calida had filed a shock petition against the broadcaster before the Supreme Court, asking the justices to void the 25-year franchise of ABS-CBN which is due to expire on March 30.

“We should all look at this for what it simply is: a two-pronged attack to bring down ABS-CBN through judicial action and legislative fiat, whichever would come first,” she wrote.

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Various bills for its renewal are pending and up for debate before the expiry date in the House of Representatives, which has the sole mandate to issue franchises.

Protests by supporters of the popular TV network and media freedom advocates and journalists have been widespread against the action by the Duterte government.

Noting that Calida was the fourth highest paid public official in the Philippines, Gloria wrote: “Now if only Calida’s efficiency, doggedness, and surgical precision were applied to governance – the kind that calms a nation in the face of the coronavirus, the type that acts upon evacuees’ woes after the Taal volcano eruption, or simply one that tries to end our traffic nightmare.”

‘Unprecedented backlog’
She also noted that Calida’s office had “an unprecedented one million cases in backlog” in 2017.

On Monday, Calida also sought a gag order against the network.

Gloria will be a keynote speaker at the ACMC “Change, adaption and innovation” conference hosted by Auckland University of Technology on November 26-28.

She took up journalism during the Marcos dictatorship years after graduating from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

“Revolutions and transitions have shaped her career and temperament as a journalist,” says the Rappler website. Rappler, one of the most innovative media companies, is also a champion of a free press and has often clashed with Duterte.

Gloria has worked for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and for international news agencies.

In the closing period of the administration of former President Joseph Estrada, she co-founded Newsbreak, which started as a newsweekly.

Conflict books
From 2008 to January 2011, she managed ANC, the ABS-CBN news channel, as its chief operating officer.

A Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard University in 2018, she is the author of Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao (with Marites Dañguilan-Vitug), a groundbreaking book on the conflict in Mindanao that won the National Book Award.

In 2011, she wrote The Enemy Within: An Inside Story on Military Corruption, with Aries Rufo and Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza.

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