By Benjamin Pulta

The Supreme Court of the Philippines (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Supreme Court has dismissed the indirect contempt charges filed by Stradcom Corporation against broadcaster Ted Failon.

Stradcom had asked the SC to cite Failon (Mario Teodoro Etong in real life) in indirect contempt for statements made in his radio program on January 12, 2010 allegedly criticizing past decisions of the Court and for discussing the merits of the then ongoing case where Stradcom is a party.

That case had been filed by Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo against then Transportation and Communication secretary Leandro Mendoza along with Stradcom which sought to nullify the Land Transportation Office’s Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) project.

Stradcom claims the radio commentator violated the sub judice rule in discussing the merits of the case and sought to influence the opinion of the people for the public clamor to sway the court into ruling against the project.

In ruling for Failon, the Court said “respondent (Failon) merely expressed his frustrations and disagreements with past decisions of this Court to reinforce his fears about the outcome in Bayan Muna.”

“His words were not the kind of expressions which were adjudged contumacious by this Court worthy of its exercise of the contempt power. He did not insinuate disreputable motives to this Court or any of its specific members; neither did he use intemperate language to demean the Court’s dignity or the respect due to it. Even his sarcastic intimations cannot be deemed actionable,” the SC said in a 28-page decision published on its website on Monday.

“A perusal of the assailed interview shows that it was merely a reiteration of the arguments raised by petitioners in Bayan Muna, which is not of that nature to generate the substantive evil of obstructing the administration of justice in the ongoing case that needs to be forestalled.”

“A public utterance or publication will not be deprived of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press simply because it relates to an ongoing judicial proceeding upon the assumption that the expression unavoidably tends to impede the orderly dispensation of justice in the pending case,” the Court said. (PNA)