Vilma defends her movie-TV shows

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos Recto has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition filed by party-list group Social Justice Society questioning her television appearances.

In her memorandum, the actress said that there are no special and important reasons for the high court to take cognizance of SJS’s petition for review.

The Batangas governor said that the proposed review is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion, which shall only be granted when there are special and important reasons.

Besides, she said that the group has no cause of action as its amended petition did not state the number of movies or television appearances she had made since starting her tenure as Lipa City mayor.

She lamented that she was dragged into the case as she is a “well-known movie and television personality” who happened to be the then incumbent mayor of Lipa City.

Apart from Vilma, the SJS, in its amended petition, also impleaded then Pampanga Gov. Manuel “Lito” Lapid and then Parañaque City Mayor Joey Marquez.

In its Sept. 12, 2002 petition before the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 14, the SJS asked for a judicial interpretation of Section 90 of the Local Government Code (Practice of Profession).

The provision bars governors, city and municipal mayors from practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions as local chief executives. Former Interior Secretary Jose Lina was impleaded in the petition being the then interior secretary.

Lina, on Dec. 12, 2002, filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the RTC had no jurisdiction on the petition and that the SJS was not a real party in interest. He argued that the amended petition had failed to meet the requirements of a petition for declaratory relief.

On April 11, 2003, Vilma also filed a motion to dismiss arguing that SJS had no legal standing to file a petition for declaratory relief and that SJS was not the real party in interest.

Vilma said the amended petition had failed to state a cause of action and that it was not justified for it merely asked for an advisory opinion on the matter from the trial court.

Marquez, in his answer dated April 3, 2003, claimed that his appearance in television and movies is “but an exercise of his freedom of expression” which is guaranteed by the Constitution. Marquez added that the SJS’ apprehension that his alleged undue advantage in future elections has no basis.

On June 30, 2003, the Manila RTC granted Recto’s motion to dismiss, prompting SJS to file a motion for reconsideration. The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration on Sept. 12, 2003. The SJS then went to the high tribunal invoking Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and questioned the dismissal of its petition for declaratory relief by the Manila RTC.