New judge to handle billboard case
MANILA, Philippines—The case filed by an outdoor advertisers group against the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s anti-billboard campaign has been raffled off to a new judge on Thursday afternoon.
The question on the legality of the MMDA’s campaign against billboards would now be heard at Branch 132 of the Makati City regional trial court after presiding judge Elpidio Calis of Makati RTC Branch 133 inhibited from the case last month.
Presiding judge Rommel Baybay of Makati RTC Branch 132 has yet to schedule a hearing regarding the case, which the Outdoor Advertisers Association of the Philippines lodged against the MMDA for its crackdown on gigantic billboards.
The OAAP secured a temporary restraining order against the campaign, stopping the dismantling of the billboards until the legal issues were settled in court.
In an interview with reporters, OAAP president Ed Acosta said he hoped the new judge would see their arguments as enough ground to rule against the MMDA’s campaign, which he feared could spell doom for the outdoor advertising industry.
He reiterated that their group, composed of over 100 firms nationwide, has been open to consultations regarding the MMDA’s Memorandum Circular No. 10, which sets new guidelines on outdoor billboards.
“MMDA doesn’t listen to us anymore. We’ve been seeking an audience with them. All we’re asking is a little more time, a transitory period, for us to comply with the new (billboard) regulations,” he said.
While the memorandum was to take effect in January 2012, some billboards were already being dismantled, according to Acosta.
The memorandum limits the size of billboards to 40 x 60 feet and must be 100 meters apart from each structure. Those billboards found to be violating the regulation would be immediately dismantled.
Judge Calis issued the TRO on September 1 and it lapsed 20 days later. He granted the MMDA’s motion for him to inhibit from the case on September 23.
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