The Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of the P10-million class suit filed against the government by 37 broadcast and print journalists arrested while covering the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
In a 15-page decision released on Thursday, the SC’s First Division sustained the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Makati City Regional Trial Court, Branch 56, in 2013 and 2008, respectively, that dismissed the civil complaint filed by the journalists against the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and several Cabinet officials during the Arroyo administration.
The SC dismissed for lack of merit the petition of the journalists seeking reversal of the CA and RTC rulings.
In ruling against the suit of the journalists, The SC ruled that the lower courts were correct in dismissing the suit for lack of cause of action because the complainants “failed to prove that their rights were violated which constitute an actionable wrong.”
The SC agreed with the findings of both CA and RTC that the constitutional freedoms of speech and of the press of petitioners were not violated when they were arrested by the PNP and AFP.
“We sustain thus the RTC’s and the CA’s finding that there is no prior restraint nor an impermissible regulation on the petitioners’ freedom of speech and of the press considering that respondents’ questioned acts were merely brought about by the exigencies of the situation and ultimately, were valid exercise of their authority so as not to compromise the safety of the civilians at the scene of the incident,” stated the decision penned by now retired Associate Justice Noel Tijam.