Philippine media

QC court denies NTC’s appeal to set aside order to unblock Bulatlat’s website

Jairo Bolledo
QC court denies NTC’s appeal to set aside order to unblock Bulatlat’s website

ANOTHER PETITION. Bulatlat managing editor Len Olea represents their newsroom on August 25, 2022, in filing a petition to contempt the National Telecommunications Commission for delaying the unblocking of their site.

Photo by Altermidya

Quezon City RTC Branch 306 highlights at least three points to explain why it denied the motions filed by the NTC and former national security adviser Esperon

MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 306 denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and former national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. over its earlier ruling that ordered the agency to unblock Bulatlat’s website.

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the public defendant NTC dated August 16, 2022 and the Motion for Reconsideration filed by private defendant Gen. Esperon, Jr., dated August 19, 2022, are hereby DENIED,” the 16-page decision read.

The NTC and Esperon’s motion for reconsideration stemmed from the QC RTC Branch 306’s decision dated August 11, which granted Bulatlat’s plea for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to temporarily suspend the NTC’s memorandum, which blocked their website.

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Decision

QC RTC Branch 306 highlighted at least three points to explain why it denied the motions.

Continuing Act. In its appeal, the NTC said their issuance of the memorandum was a singular act. It further argued that a preliminary injunction is not applicable to an already completed action.

“Beyond cursory interpretations, what is actually sought to be restrained here is the blocking of the website of bulatlat.com after a directive that continues until an injunction is issued by the Court. As the said directive continues to be enforced, the issuance of a preliminary prohibitory injunction restraining the NTC from enforcing the same, insofar as bulatlat.com, is concerned is proper,” the court explained.

“It is the directive or instruction to block, a continuing act, and not the issuance, which is sought to be enjoined. The issuance is merely the manner of making known to the ISPs the directive which is to be carried out,” it added.

Constitutional rights were violated. The QC RTC Branch 306 said it sees no compelling reason to reverse its resolution since Bulatlat was able to establish all the requisites needed for a preliminary injunction. Aside from this, the court reiterated that Bulatlat’s constitutional rights were violated when its website was blocked.

“It is undisputed that plaintiff, being the owner of bulatlat.com, an online media outfit, has the right to freedom of speech and of the press,” the court explained. “As a result of the blocking, plaintiff is unquestionably deprived of its Constitutional right to freedom of speech and of the press, which in and of itself constitutes irreparable damage.”

NTC ordered the blocking. According to the QC court, Esperon argued that there was no proof that the blocking of the website was due to the NTC’s memorandum. However, the court said the NTC “unequivocally” directed all concerned internet providers in the country to block a number of websites, including Bulatlat’s.

“Thus, it is but logical to assume that the blocking of bulatlat.com can be largely attributed to the NTC Memorandum. To conclude that the blocking was not due to the NTC Memorandum is simply an irrational insistence to ignore what is already obvious.”

The QC RTC Branch 306’s decision was the latest victory of Bulatlat against the NTC and Esperon.

Before the end of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Esperon asked the NTC to block Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly’s websites. The retired general and Duterte official used the draconian anti-terror law and justified the blocking by citing excerpts from Pinoy Weekly. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.