Court rejects Morato claim of free speech
Ruling that freedom of speech can neither be absolute nor unconditional, a Quezon City court has rejected a motion to dismiss filed by former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office chair Manuel Morato and set for next month his arraignment for multiple counts of electioneering.
In a Sept. 17 order, Judge Aurora Hernandez-Calledo denied the dismissal being sought by Morato of the complaint against him for violations of Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, and Batas Pambansa 881, or the Omnibus Election Code, filed by the Commission on Elections.
The charges stemmed from Morato’s alleged use in 2010 of several episodes of his public affairs television show “Dial M,” aired over the state-owned IBC13 television channel, to campaign for the then administration presidential candidate, Gilbert Teodoro, and his running mate, Eduardo Manzano, while urging the public not to vote for certain senatorial candidates.
Morato sought the dismissal of the charges, claiming the absence of probable cause because the filing of the cases against him allegedly violated his constitutional right to free speech and the unconstitutionality of the election laws under which he was charged.