SC junks Ampatuan's contempt petition vs ABS-CBN, reporter | Inquirer News

SC junks Ampatuan’s contempt petition vs ABS-CBN, reporter

By: - Reporter / @luisacabatoINQ
/ 02:28 PM January 06, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr.’s petition of indirect contempt against ABS-CBN Corporation and its reporter, Jorge Cariño, in relation to the Ampatuan family’s involvement in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

Ampatuan Jr. is one of the two masterminds of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

In the SC decision dated April 25, 2023, written by Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the court granted ABS-CBN and Cariño’s petition challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision, which upheld the Regional Trial Court’s refusal to dismiss Ampatuan Jr.’s indirect contempt petition.


The case sprang from a June 2010 “TV Patrol World” report, where Cariño’s interviewee, Lakmodin Saliao, narrated that he was present when the Ampatuan family planned what became the Maguindanao massacre.


Cariño’s interview with Saliao prompted Andal’s petition before the Regional Trial Court, citing ABS-CBN, Cariño, and Saliao for indirect contempt.

He claimed that the interview was “calculated to interfere with court proceedings to serve Saliao’s own interests without passing through the scrutiny of the police of the National Prosecution Service.”

Andal also prayed that the three parties be prohibited from making further statements in any forum or media during the pendency of the Maguindanao Massacre case.

“Courts exercise inherent contempt powers by restricting speech that tends to bring the court into disrespect or scandalize the court, or where there is clear and present danger that would impede the administration of justice,” said the Court.

The SC did take note of the sub judice rule, which prohibits statements and disclosures about court proceedings in order to avoid directly or indirectly influencing a judge through public opinion.

However, it also said that given its “drastic and extraordinary” nature, its power to punish for contempt must be restrained and judicious and “used only in flagrant cases and with utmost forbearance.”


The SC further said that Andal’s petition failed to present two out of four requirements: “mental element of the speaker who uttered the contemptuous speech showing that the purpose of the speech is to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice” and “clear and present danger of the utterance to the court’s administration of justice, specifically identifying the importance and saliency of the information on the ability of courts to make an impartial decision.”

“Those accused of indirect contempt should not be compelled to proceed to trial when the charges are grossly insufficient,” the ruling read.

However, the SC noted that had Andal’s petition sufficiently stated a cause of action, specifically all the required allegations, ABS-CBN and Cariño “would have been guilty of indirect contempt in interviewing and broadcasting Saliao’s statements which are relevant in the pending criminal cases before he was even presented in court.”

It added that while Saliao’s statements were matters of grave public concern, he should not have been presented by ABS-CBN and Cariño as a witness on national television.

“The use of the term ‘testigo’ in Saliao’s presentation to the public removes the distinction between media interviews and witness presentations in open court. Moreover, Cariño ended the interview in a manner that bolstered the truth of Saliao’s statements, again characterizing the interview as testimony,” said the Court.


Andal Ampatuan Jr., kin guilty for Maguindanao massacre of 57 people

Maguindanao massacre: The wound of PH impunity that will never heal

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Remembering the Maguindanao Massacre

TAGS: ABS-CBN, Ampatuan, Supreme Court

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.