MANILA, Philippines – Television network GMA 7 has asked the Court of Appeals to nullify the temporary restraining order issued by a Pasay regional trial court which prevents it from airing an episode of the news and public affairs program, “Imbestigador.”
The episode, which is also the subject of a preliminary injunction, shows the police arresting a Pasay assistant prosecutor for alleged extortion last month.
“We are contesting the TRO and preliminary injunction and have elevated the matter to the Court to Appeals because we think that this constitutes direct and prior restraint on the exercise of free speech and expression and is therefore unconstitutional,” lawyer Dick Perez, GMA 7’s vice president for legal affairs, told the Inquirer.
“We have the right and the duty to report (on) and inform the public about the conduct of public officials in the performance of their functions,” he added.
On June 16, Judge Francisco Mendiola of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 115 issued a TRO to stop the airing of the “Imbestigador” episode showing Pasay Assistant City Prosecutor John Imperial being arrested for alleged extortion.
According to Mendiola, the showing of the footage would subject Imperial to “public distrust, ridicule and humiliation.”
The TRO was issued to “Imbestigador” hosts Mike Enriquez and the program’s executive producer, Junie Castillo.
When the TRO expired three days later, the judge extended it by 17 more days and then issued a preliminary injunction when his order expired on July 6.
Imperial earlier filed a petition for preliminary injunction after he complained that the showing of the footage would expose him to ridicule and imply that he was guilty of extortion.
Imperial said the crew of the TV program filmed him as he was being arrested by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police for allegedly extorting money from the complainants on June 2.
The prosecutor, who is facing an investigation at the Department of Justice for alleged extortion, pointed out that the police did not recover any money from him at the time of his arrest.