Esperon not off the hook in website blocking case

Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat


MANILA – As the trial for the nullification of the website blocking continued today, Sep. 7, a Quezon City Regional Trial Court said former National Security Adviser and retired general Hermogenes Esperon Jr. will remain as a defendant in his personal capacity in the case.

The decision stems from Esperon’s earlier petition, where he asked the court to remove him from the website blocking case and be replaced by the current national security adviser.

“Defendant Esperon is allowed to be substituted by incumbent NSA Eduardo Año for defendant NSC, but remains to be a defendant in his personal capacity,” a resolution penned by Judge Catherine Manodon of QC RTC Branch 104 read.

Read: NTF-ELCAC lawyers represent Año in Bulatlat’s website blocking case vs NTC, Esperon

The said order was issued last Sep. 4 but handed to parties to the case in today’s hearing.

Judge Manodon said that the Court agrees that Esperon may be substituted by the current NSA and NSC Director-General Eduardo Año, it is only in so far as to NSC being a defendant.

“It is worthy to note that Esperon and NSC were separately impleaded as defendants in the Complaint. As alleged by the plaintiff in its Comment. Gen. Esperon is being sued in his personal capacity for having issued a letter-request to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to block websites, including with malice, bad faith, and blatant disregard of the law Under Section 38 of the Administrative Code, a public officer shall not be civilly liable for acts done in the performance of his official duties, unless there is a clear showing of bad faith, malice or gross negligence,” the decision read.

The resolution furthered that only Esperon “can shed light on the events which gave rise to the issuance of the assailed Memorandum. Hence, the Motion is partially granted.”

Neither Esperon nor his lawyer has appeared before the court since the mediation proceedings.

Meanwhile, Judge Manondon also denied the motions for summary judgment both filed by the NTC and the NSA for “lack of merit,” while Bulatlat’s motion for reconsideration on the inhibition of Judge Bolante-Prado was denied for “lack of basis.”

Bulatlat welcomed the court’s decision to keep Esperon as one of the defendants, as well as the denial of motions for summary judgment.

“We reiterate that Esperon should be held accountable for masterminding the blocking of more than a dozen websites of media outfits and progressive groups,” said Bulatlat in their statement.

“While the NTC and NSC claim that the blocking is a matter of national security, we assert that our right to free speech, free expression, and free press have been violated.”

Both the NTC and the NSA said that they would be filing a motion for reconsideration of the decision on the summary judgment and asked for the postponement of the presentation of evidence.

They were granted fifteen days to file the motion. The next trial is set for Nov. 9, 2023. (JJE) (

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