GMA 7’s public affairs program, Imbestigador, was one segment less last night. Reason: a court barred the airing of the program’s report on the Dimaporos of Lanao del Norte.
Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo of the second district of Lanao del Norte secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring GMA Network Inc. from airing a story which looks into his family’s almost six-decade rule in the province.
The TRO dated May 11, was issued by Judge Jacob Malik of Branch 21 Regional Trial Court in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte. It reached GMA Network just as Imbestigador‘s production teams were in the final phase of editing the stories for airing.
In his petition, Rep. Dimaporo said the Imbestigador story “will only cause irreparable damage” to his and his family’s “good name” and alleged that the program’s producers did not even try to get his side. Dimaporo added that a text message saying the story will focus on his “corruption and greediness” had been circulating, which prompted him to file the petition.
In his decision granting Dimaporo a 72-hour TRO, Judge Malik noted that “petitioner will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury” if the segment is aired.
The Dimaporos have been in power in Lanao del Norte for almost six decades now. The family patriatch, Mohammad Ali Dimaporo, began his political career as governor of the province. He also ran and won a seat in Congress at various times. Other members of the Dimaporo clan held various electoral posts through the years. Rep. Dimaporo, the petitioner, is running for his third term in Congress. His wife, Gov. Imelda “Angging” Dimaporo is running for the province’s first congressional district. Their son Khalid is running to replace his mother at the capitol.
Imbestigador‘s associate producer Angel Directo denies that the program did not try to get Rep. Dimaporo’s side. She says the team assigned to the story extended its stay in Lanao del Norte by two days last week in an effort to secure an interview with Rep. Dimaporo. She says the congressman at first agreed to be interviewed, but the Imbestigador team was later told he was unavailable. Directo adds that the program again sent a researcher and a cameraman to Lanao del Norte last Friday, but they too, failed to get the lawmaker to agree to a sit-down interview.
Atty. Jose Vener Ibarra of GMA 7’s legal department says the network’s lawyers will discuss the issue on Monday. “But personally, I am shocked that at this day and age, there are people who still stifle political discussion, which is the highest form of free speech.” He adds that a report about the Dimaporos as politicians is “not a private aspect of their lives, but a public fact” and should not have been barred from airing.
A hearing to determine whether the TRO will be extended beyond 72 hours is set for Tuesday.