CA thumbs down motion to dismiss 'Willing Willie' case

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2011 10:47 AM | Updated as of Mar 11 2011 06:47 PM

The Court of Appeals' First Division thumbed down ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation's motion for the dismissal of ABC Development Corporation's (TV5) petition for certiorari(review) and prohibition in connection with the program Willing Willie, which, ABS-CBN claims, to be "confusingly similar" to its former program, Wowowee.

In a resolution dated March 10, 2011, the Appellate Court said ABS-CBN's motion to dismiss does not hold rule.

The network giant filed the motion insisting that petitioner's petition has become moot and academic following the denial of the regional trial court of Makati Branch 66 of ABC's prayer to defer the lower court's proceedings on the issuance of a temporary restraining order(TRO) on the airing of Willing Willie.

"A case becomes moot when there is no more actual controversy between the parties," the decision read.

The court noted that ABC's petition also raised the issues of lack of cause of action, forum-shopping, improper venue and splitting a cause of action which it calls "justiciable disputations that we are called upon to deliberate and adjudicate on."

The court said issues will be "left hung out to dry" if the petition were dismissed, among them, the assertion that petitioners engaged in forum shopping and the blatant disregard of procedural rules.

ABC request for preliminary injunction granted

The court granted ABC's prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, which prevents the trial court from conducting proceedings and issuing orders that will render the case moot and academic.

ABC maintained that they have "a clear and unmistakable right to freely broadcast Willing Willie" and that the assailed proceedings at the trial court "constitute invasion of their freedom of expression and freedom from prior restraint."

The court held that it "cannot turn a blind eye to the incalculable losses that petitioners may suffer once the airing of Willing Willie is enjoined," the resolution read.

The court said ABCs contractual obligations to sponsors and advertisers and the program's crew and staff would be jeopardized if airing is temporarily stopped.

"We are of the considered opinion that an injunctive writ is necessary to forestall this irreparable injury that may be suffered by petitioners," the resolution read.

Revillame motion for intervention granted

The court meantime found compelling grounds to grant Willing Willie program host Willie Revillame's motion for intervention.

"His interest is so intertwined with that of petitioners so that his claims could not possibly be threshed out in a separate proceeding," the decision read.

Interventions are allowed by the court to a third party under the following requirements:
-he has a legal interest in the matter in litigation;
-or in the success of any of the parties;
-or an interest against the parties; or when he is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or disposition of property in the custody of the court or an officer thereof.

The court meantime ruled that the cash bond amounting to P102,400,000 posted for the TRO shall continue to answer for any and all damages that ABS-CBN may suffer with the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction, should it be decided later that ABC is not entitled to it.

The case is deemed submitted for decision following the submission of the parties' memoranda.