ABS-CBN ordered to stop airing anti-Duterte ads

Posted on May 07, 2016

SENATOR and vice-presidential bet Alan Peter S. Cayetano secured on Friday a court order stopping ABS-CBN Corp. from airing political advertisements against his running mate, presidential frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.

File photo of Vice-Presidential candidate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. -- BW
The Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 69’s temporary restraining order against the advertisements, one of which featured children criticizing the trash-talking mayor’s behavior, is in effect for 72 hours.

“Respondents are hereby enjoined to [sic] further broadcast that advertisement using minor children and paid for and by Antonio Trillanes IV, including any other future advertisements of similar nature,” read the order by Executive Judge Lorifel L. Pahimna.

The two-page order said the advertisement, paid for by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, “shows minors being used in black propaganda.”

The ad featured several children with their faces on full display while showing Mr. Duterte saying, with subtitles,”kayo ay patayin ko, (All of you will be killed by me),” “patayin ko kayong lahat (I will kill you all),” “mabuhay ang NPA (Long Live the New People’s Army).”

“Thus, it must be suppressed at once, as repeated broadcasting of the same will be irreparably inimical to the children’s welfare and interest,” the order read.

It also cited Section 2, Article 8 of the 2007 Broadcast Code, which mandates that “no program or sponsor shall be allowed to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party.”

The order also said Mr. Cayetano was deprived of the right to reply to the advertisement, which began airing on ABS-CBN on Thursday, just four days before the May 9, 2016 elections.

“There is truth to the claim that petitioner’s right to reply will be denied considering that the election day is so close now,” the order read.

Mr. Trillanes, who is also running for vice president, has in the past week unleashed accusations that Mr. Duterte has hidden wealth in undeclared bank accounts and that he allegedly had ‘ghost employees’ in Davao City.

The anti-Duterte advertisements are a “conspiracy” between Malacañang and his rivals, Mr. Cayetano said in a press conference in Taguig City, hours before he secured the TRO. “I have known about the meetings… it is a Malacañang-sponsored meeting between Grace Poe and [Manuel A.] Roxas [II].”

“I have inside information and logic will tell you that,” Mr. Cayetano added, saying that the “conspiracy” is funded by the camp of Ms. Poe, “courtesy of the oligarchs and Malacañang.”

The advertisements were unfair to Mr. Duterte as he was not given a chance to air his side given the short time in the run-up to the polls,

“Chinop-chop yung video [The video was cut up and put together] to make Mayor Duterte appear different,” Mr. Cayetano said.

However, Daang Matuwid spokesperson Ibarra M. Gutierrez III said in a brief text message that Mr. Cayetano “is mistaken.” He refused to elaborate.

For his part, Leoncio Evasco Jr., Mr. Duterte’s national campaign manager, said in a statement that the ad was a “final act of desperation.”

The ad was the work of a “cabal of men who will use and employ all the dirty tricks, including children, in gross violation of the law to perpetuate themselves in power,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cayetano said that ABS-CBN has rejected his own TV ad promoting his vice-presidential run, citing that the network’s chairman “was shown in the footage.”

ABS-CBN, according to the senator, has told other TV networks not to air the ad as it owns the video. The footage was taken during the vice-presidential debate commissioned by ABS-CBN. The network has declined to comment regarding the issue.

As of 7 pm on May 6, more than 8,500 internet users have signed a petition lodged at the platform that asked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to suspend three television networks that aired the anti-Duterte ad on Thursday night.

The petition was initiated by a certain Jeff Alvarado from Pasay City, Metro Manila.

“The government itself used tv ads shown by all TV networks nationwide just to make Rodrigo look like a dictator so many will fear and not vote him,” the petition said. “They (government) even used children for this ad and for me this is a very unlawful act, an abuse of power and authority of the government. Why are they allowing this? Why does the media agreed on this dirty ads? For the sake of money? Where is the integrity? The principle of their company? This is not right. RIP to the Philippine Media.”

The three networks accused of running the ad are ABS-CBN Corp., GMA Network, Inc., and TV5.

However, the MTRCB on its official Twitter account said that the Commission on Elections has the sole jurisdiction to regulate political television advertisements under the Fair Election Act.

On Friday, TV5 denied that it aired the ad.

“TV5 Network would like to correct speculations that it was among the broadcast stations that aired the negative advertisement against Mayor Rodrigo Duterte,” the network said in a statement posted at, its news website. “The particular political advertisement was not aired by TV5 because there were certain requirements that were not complied with. The decision not to air is brought about due to this reason. TV5 does not, in any way, discriminate against or favor any political candidate or party.”

Similarly, GMA Network Inc. also denied broadcasting the ad.

“We did not air the ‘Halimbawa’ TV ad which featured Mayor Duterte and minors,” Angela Javier Cruz, the network’s VP for Corporate Affairs and Communications said in a text message.

Although ABS-CBN declined to comment regarding its decision to air the ad, it said that it was “duty bound to air a legitimate ad,” the network said in a statement posted on its news website, [Link: here]

“The controversial political advertisement being talked about in social media, which aired on ABS-CBN, was produced and paid for by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Prior to the airing, ABS-CBN’s ethics committee reviewed the content of the material, which complies with the requirements of pertinent election laws,” the network said. 

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. group, through unit Media Quest Holdings, Inc. (MediaQuest), acquired ABC Development Corp. in 2009. The broadcaster changed its name to TV5 Network, Inc. on Feb. 28 last year, based on a regulatory filing.

Hastings Holdings, Inc. -- a unit of MediaQuest -- maintains interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato, Ray S. Javil, Carmencita A. Carillo, Daphne J. Magturo