Court junks contempt raps vs 10 Bacolod journalists

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied for lack of merit the motion to cite for indirect contempt 10 journalists in Bacolod City and Iloilo City filed by the administrator of the Moncado estate.

In a decision dated January 27, 2016 furnished to the Negros Press Club on Thursday, February 18, RTC Branch 6 Judge Rosario Ester Orda-Caise said the motion was tenable.

She stated in her decision that “as to form, the movant failed to comply with the rules in the filing of indirect contempt charges against the respondents.”

The case was labeled “In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of the Deceased General Hilario Camino Moncado” with Magdalena Vda. De Jayme as petitioner.

Named respondents are Carla Gomez and Ninfa Leonardia of the Visayan Daily Star, Eugene Adiong and Danny Fajardo of Panay News, Marchel Espina and David Fajardo of Watchmen Daily Journal, Teresa Ellera and Nanette Guadalquiver of Sun.Star Bacolod, Aksyon Radyo Bacolod and Dolly Yasa and Francis Angelo of the Daily Guardian.

In her motion, the petitioner claimed that respondents went to a press conference called by Virginia Adorio and Alberto Arceo, and thereafter wrote, aired, and published articles that describe her as a “scammer” or “extortionist,” and knowing that the settlement of the estate of General Moncado is still pending in court, the said respondents violated the rule on sub judice.

Orda-Caise, in her decision, said the petitioner could not say that this was an offshoot of the petition against Adorio and Arceo as the respondents were not parties to the case and have a different cause of action from that of Adorio and Arceo. Hence, it must still follow the rules on actions for indirect contempt.

“Further, the court does not find the reporting of the press conference disrespectful against it,” Orda-Caise said.

The decision also said that the reporting of whatever sentiments Adorio and Arceo have against the movant is personal between them and does not involve matters of the court.

It also stated that the movant anchors her motion on the fact that she was appointed administrator, therefore she is deemed an officer of the court, and such pronouncements impairs her duties. However, she has not alleged how said pronouncements would impair her duties, neither can she use the powers of the court at whim to protect her from alleged harassment.

“It is the integrity of the court not hers which should be protected,” Orda-Caise said in her decision.

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