Groups of journalism and communication practitioners and academicians assailed the Quo Warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court questioning the broadcasting franchise of ABS-CBN.

Freedom for Media, Freedom for All (FMFA), a national coalition of media-oriented organizations, enjoins what they call “Filipinos who believe that a democracy cannot flourish without a free and autonomous press” to make a collective front to defend press freedom.

In a statement the FMFA says the attempt to close down ABS-CBN is a “direct attack against the shared freedom of all citizens.”

“To silence even just one source of news and information is an attack against all citizens,” the statement read.

It noted how President Rodrigo Duterte showed his hostility against all opposition, “particularly news organizations and individual journalists who have dared to question and to criticize him, has been a hallmark of his administration.”

The FMFA said “adversarial relationship between media and government has been part of our political system,” thus it is the role of the media, as the fourth pillar of a democratic state, that government, which exercises power, must be checked.

It added that the country lies in “dangerous times” as it was only during the Martial Law era that state power has been exerted over the autonomy of the press.

“Government has marshalled its tremendous forces against news organizations and individual journalists who have dared to question and criticize the killings that marred the fight against illegal drugs, the shameful surrender of national sovereignty over our seas in the pivot to China, and the failure to provide for the welfare of the people in times of crisis.”

The FMFA, composed of the following groups: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Union of Journalists of the Philippine, Philippine Press Institute, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and MindaNews, calls all citizens to “stand in solidarity with a free and autonomous press.”

Meanwhile, a group of communication scholars called the filing of the Quo Warranto petition against ABS-CBN by the Solicitor General as an attempt “to silence legitimate dissents and independent voices.”

The Philippines Communication Society (PCS), a national organization of communication scholars, researchers, media executives, public information officers, corporate communication officers and communication professionals engaged in the promotion of communication as a social science discipline, said “the right to freedom of expression when directly assaulted and trampled upon by the very government that is expected to protect it, signals a democracy in peril.”

The group calls the act “misplaced” in a democratic society.

“As a national organization of communication and media professionals in the country, the Philippines Communication Society (PCS) condemns this deplorable move by the government,” it said.

“Now, more than ever, the father of the nation should show his patriotism and convey his love for freedom than his hatred for his perceived enemies.” (Rommel F. Lopez)