DIPOLOG CITY – The Optical Media Board (OMB) served a show cause order to Orient Cable and Telecommunications Company, a cable TV provider in Dipolog for allegedly airing Avengers: Endgame on April 25, a day after the film premiered in local cinemas.
Lawyer Hywel Vergara of OMB’s legal division was accompanied by local police officers to the Orient Cable headquarters, where its officials were reportedly reluctant to receive the order to show cause to explain why they should not be accused in court for illegally airing the film. (READ: Orient Cable in Dipolog faces lawsuit for alleged piracy of 'Avengers: Endgame')
The Orient Cable officials reportedly complied after being told they would be facing a much bigger problem if they refuse. They received the order to show cause at 2 pm May 6.
“With it is an order for the owners (of Orient Cable) to attend hearings at OMB in Manila on May 7 and 14,” Vergara said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier released the Articles of Incorporation of Orient Cable, which identified its incorporators as Henry Y. Uy, President; Roberto Y. Uy, Vice President; Godofredo Y. Uy, Secretary; William Y. Uy, Treasurer; Albina Uy-Ong, Auditor; Shirley Uy-Gusayko; and Arsenia I. Uy.
Orient Cable apparently stopped airing Avengers: Endgame when lawyers of local cinema Teatro de Dapitan complained to the Dipolog City Police Office at 5 pm on April 25.
Since then, the cable provider remained silent over allegations of film piracy, but has replaced its home Channel 18 with another channel.
Following the incidents, OMB Chairman Ansel Adriano warned people to respect intellectual rights of those in the film industry, especially local productions.
In a telephone interview, Adriano said they have been working hard to fight film piracy, and establishments and individuals should respect our law because it carries a heavy penalty: imprisonment of up to 6 years and up to P1.5 million per violation.
“We are again under bad light before the international community, and it is sad it has to come from Dipolog City. I hope this will serve as a lesson to all of us, that piracy is bad and much more against the law,” Adriano said.
Possible vote-buying scheme
Meanwhile, Teatro de Dapitan lawyer Chembeelyn Alpeche-Balucan said they are looking into the possibility that the illegal screening of the film may be part of a “vote buying” scheme as one of Orient Cable owners, Roberto Uy, is running for re-election as Zamboanga del Norte governor. He is being challenged by incumbent Seth Frederick Jalosjos, whose family owns Teatro de Dapitan.
“I believe they got political gains because of the timing of the illegal showing, and it was just like giving a lot of people – many of whom can hardly pay for movies – about P300 to watch Avengers at the comfort of their homes,” Balucan said.
But according to Balucan’s fellow lawyer at Teatro de Dapitan, Atty. Marc Cielo, “we are still making reasonable rationalizations, and not conclusions.”
Vote buying does not always involve cash, said lawyer Emil Marañon, an election lawyer specializing in automated litigation and consulting.
In an article on Rappler, he cited election offense under the Omnibus Election Code, specifically from from Section 261, which outlines Prohibited Acts.
“Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party,” it says.
It also stated that “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.” – Rappler.com