MANILA -- Local film directors have expressed deep concern over the government's attempt to "silence media and cultural entities that are critical of power," after its lawyers moved to have ABS-CBN stripped of its franchise.
A petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday alleges that the Kapamilya network violated the constitution by allowing overseas investors to join the company.
Responding to the petition, the Director's Guild of the Philippines released a statement denouncing the attack on press freedom.
"Like cinema, press freedom plays a vanguard role in society: not only is it meant to communicate and disseminate information, but it also plays the crucial role of being a mirror to its audience, and making us face and question our social and cultural ills."
The group added: "As filmmakers, let us advocate for democracy and denounce any attempt to silence media and cultural entities that are critical of power.
"We must be vigilant and critical. We must uphold press freedom. We must hold the line."
The Director's Guild of the Philippines is among the country's largest group of filmmakers, dedicated to protecting "freedom of expression," and to progressing the development of local cinema.
Its statement comes a day after Calida's petition to cancel ABS-CBN's franchise. The franchise, which President Rodrigo Duterte vowed repeatedly to block the renewal of, expires on March 30.
Other artist groups such as the Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-Aawit have also criticized the attempt to shut down ABS-CBN as a "significant blow to our community of artists."
The organization wrote: "The repercussions will indeed be felt far beyond our sector."
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines, a group founded by National Artist for Films Lino Brocka, said that the move was reminiscent of the martial law years.
"We must not forget our history of repression and resistance," the group reminded its followers.
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go has already said that Duterte has "nothing to do" with Calida's petition.