The Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City has found probable cause to charge in court the directors of three related outdoor advertising firms for violating the Anti-Dummy Law and the prohibition of foreign ownership of mass media in the country.
In a resolution filed March 9, 2020 but only made available on June 10, the city prosecutor found probable cause to charge Chia Tzu Chern, Darmo N. Castillo, Margie M. Fortin, and Joel Mendoza, directors of the sister companies HDI Stopovers Inc., HDI Adventures Inc., and HDI Admix Inc.
They are liable for three counts of violation of Section 2-A Commonwealth Act No. 108, or the Anti Dummy Law, and another three counts of violating Section 2, in relation to Section 5, of Presidential Decree (PD) 1018, limiting the ownership and management of mass media to citizens of the Philippines, according to the filing.
Violating PD 1018 has a penalty of cancellation of company permits and an imprisonment of six months to five years for the persons involved.
A letter dated January 11, 2016 from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), providing an opinion that HDI is a mass media entity, and the 2016-2017 General Information Sheet (GIS) of HDI revealing that 30% of the company is owned by a Singaporean bolstered the decision of the QC prosecutor.
A case is likewise pending with the SEC to cancel the registration of the three companies – HDI Stopovers Inc., HDI Adventures Inc., and HDI Admix Inc. — for violating such provisions. The SEC is set to resolve the matter with the release of this decision from the QC Prosecutor’s Office.