THE METROPOLITAN MANILA Development Authority (MMDA) is now facing a new complaint for removing banners on lampposts and pedestrian overpasses despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a local court.
Advertising agency City Advertising Ventures Corp. has filed four counts of indirect contempt in Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66 against officials of the MMDA, including Chair Oscar Inocentes, for violating an order to stop the dismantling the agency’s banners.
Apart from Inocentes, the other respondents are MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno, Assistant General Manager Emmanuel de Castro, Traffic Operations Center Director Angelito Vergel de Dios and 12 other officials and employees.
The complaint stemmed from four separate incidents when MMDA workers forcibly removed the banners installed along the Buendia and Santolan flyovers and Quezon and E. Rodriguez Avenues.
On one occasion last month, the MMDA arrested and detained the ad company’s employees at the Pasay City Jail. Banners and equipment were also confiscated from them.
The firm asked the court to order the MMDA to pay at least P2 million for the cost of the confiscated banners.
Another petition for a TRO was also filed by the same company in Makati RTC Branch 148 to prevent the MMDA from further dismantling passenger waiting sheds that were used in the display of commercial advertisements.
Hospicio Neri, the company’s vice president for sales and marketing, said that because of the MMDA’s clearing operations, they lost possible revenues as clients began to pull out and ask for refunds.
“They have dismantled around 1,000 ads this year without notice, despite a court order and an agreement between the company and the local government,” Neri told Inquirer.
Neri was referring to a memorandum of agreement signed by Quezon City government officials on Feb. 22, 2010, allowing City Advertising Ventures to build passenger sheds along highways and streets.
In response to the petition, Branch 66 Judge Joselito Villarosa ordered MMDA officials to explain in writing why they should not be cited for contempt. A hearing has been set on June 30.
This was not the first time the agency disobeyed a court order.
Last month, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95 found the MMDA under the term of then Chair Bayani Fernando liable for demolishing waiting sheds owned by High Desert Phil. Inc. and High Desert Stop Overs, Inc.
Inocentes earlier expressed interest in entering into an out-of-court settlement on the condition that the MMDA would not pay a single centavo to the complainant.