Media group loses ‘prior restraint’ petition

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THE Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday junked a petition for certiorari filed by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) that sought reversal of a Court of Appeals (CA) decision that allowed the National Telecommunications Commissions (NTC) to impose “prior restraint” on the media.

The High Court ruled that PPI failed to file the petition to the higher court within the reglamentary period, causing dismissal of the case.
Hence, the ruling of the CA was effectively affirmed.

The petition for certiorari, prohibition, temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction dealt with the plea to nullify an NTC memorandum circular, which stops the broadcast media from airing stories and commentaries that constitute “rebellious/terrorist propaganda, comments, information, interviews and other similar or related materials.”

On March 8, 2006, print and broadcast journalists and media organizations under PPI appealed to the CA to forbid officials under then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from restraining the press to air or publish speech inciting sedition and rebellion.


According to the petition, the officials acted beyond their power and contravened free press that is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights by placing content-based prior restraint on the Fourth Estate.

The journalists and media organizations declared that “only a court, with its accompanying due process safeguards, may impose content-based prior restraints.”

Among the petitioners were ABS-CBN, GMA7, Maria Ressa, Jessica Soho, Arnold Clavio, Ricky Carandang and Pia Hontiveros.

Other media groups were also involved such as Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Newsbreak magazine, Probe Productions, The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Center for Community Journalism and Development.

The University of the Philippines-College of Mass Communication also signed the petition.

The petition was denied then by the Court of Appeals, which said NTC released the memorandum circular on the basis of its quasi-legislative power.

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