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MANILA, Philippines— The chief of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Friday defended the agency’s 20-day preventive suspension of the “T3” show of the Tulfo brothers, a move that TV5 is challenging in court as unconstitutional because it prohibits the airing of a news program.
In an interview with Radyo Singko’s show Punto Asintado, Grace Poe Llamanzares said the MTRCB was well within its powers to preventively suspend T3 while the brothers Raffy, Ben and Erwin are being investigated for their remarks, bordering on threats, against actor Raymart Santiago, who figured in an airport brawl on Sunday with their elder brother Ramon.
The older Tulfo was set upon by Raymart, his wife Claudine Barretto and several others when he refused to turn over his cellular phone which he used to document Claudine’s outburst against Cebu Pacific ground staff.
On Friday morning, TV5 lawyers filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, seeking a temporary restraining order against the MTRCB. Its order, the network said, is tantamount to prior restraint, which is barred by the Constitution.
Earlier, TV5 president and CEO Ray C. Espinosa said the MTRCB’s “biggest mistake” was to treat T3 like an entertainment program, when in fact it is under news and public affairs. He added the network had taken steps to discipline the three younger Tulfos for their remarks.
In the Radyo Singko interview, Llamanzares, however, said the preventive suspension of the program is legal. “Ang masasabi ko lang, nakasulat iyan, nakasaad talaga iyan sa aming implementing rules and regulations na mayroon talagang 20 days preventive suspension kung naniniwala kaming makakasama ito sa katayuan ng ating mga manonood,” she said.
She told Radyo Singko that it was not the first time that MTRCB called the attention of the Tulfo brothers to their manner of conducting interviews and delivering news, but such incidents persisted. “Isang malaking sitwasyon ang nangyari at nagbanta sila eh doon sa aming implementing rules, nakalagay (na) anything contrary to law, kahit di pa specifically nakasaad kung yun nga ay threats to other people, eh di talaga iyan pinapayagan,” she said.
On the issue that news programs are not subject to MTRCB regulations, Llamanzares said that T3 program does not follow a straight news format; therefore, it is not a news or public affairs program.
“Yung news kasi di naman saklaw ng MTRCB, yung portion nila (T3), di lang naman kasi straight news yung ginagawa nilang format. Ang nilabas po nila ay personal na hinaing, personal opinion nila yun at personal na away nila yun; ginamit nila yung pagiging broadcaster nila, yung platform nila para mailabas yung galit na iyon na hindi rin naman tama para sa aming pananaw. So kaya nagkaroon ng preventive suspension habang dinidinig yung kaso,” she said.
She said the agency did not abuse its authority and does not seek to violate freedom of speech. Moreover, she reminded the public that MTRCB is accountable to the public.
The MTRCB adjudication committee will hold a hearing on May 14.