Court of Appeals denies TV5 appeal for TRO

Posted at 05/16/12 7:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Court of Appeals (CA) turned down the plea of television network ABC Development Corp. (TV5) for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction on the 20-day suspension order of the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on the network's program, "T3."

The CA First Division held a hearing on TV5's TRO application on Wednesday.

The case stems from on-air threats issued by program hosts Ben, Raffy and Erwin Tulfo against celebrity couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto following a brawl between the couple's group and the Tulfos' eldest brother, Mon. 

TV5 counsels told the 3-member Division, chaired by CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. that the review board cannot curtail the network's constitutional right to freedom of speech. TV5 also stressed that the nature of the MTRCB order was "preventive" and that there was "nothing to prevent" because the program hosts were already suspended by TV5.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing MTRCB, meantime, argued that TV5 cannot invoke a constitutional right because its permit to operate is by virtue of a congressional franchise. This then makes its operation a privilege, not a right, the OSG stressed. The OSG further said that under said franchise, TV5 has responsibilities to the viewing public, and should not allow its airtime to be used for obscene utterances. 

Presiding Justice Reyes threw questions to parties inquiring on whether the program should be penalized when it was the hosts that issued the threats. 

Associate Justice Amy Javier, for her part, asked questions pertaining to whether TV5 may invoke an individual/natural right when it is a corporation. Javier also asked TV5 and the OSG their comments on whether TV5 violated provisions of its congressional franchise when its hosts uttered the threats to the celebrity couple. 

According to a TV5 statement, the CA Justices "mediated between parties to come up with a mutually acceptable compromise for the lifting of preventive suspension order.”

In its own statement released, the MTRCB said: "Upon, demand by MTRCB in open court, TV5 vows not to repeat violation in this regard, under pain of sanction from both the Court of Appeals and MTRCB."  

It added that the MTRCB will continue with the case which will be due for decision by May 21. -- With report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News