televise the trial 2

the supreme court giveth, the supreme court taketh away.

june 14, 2011 the corona supreme court allowed live televised coverage of the Ampatuan multiple murder trial, bowing to the clamor for transparency and the public’s right to know.

october 23, 2012.  the sereno supreme court prohibits the live media broadcast of the Maguindanao massacre trial, bowing to the ampatuans’ rights to due process, equal protection, presumption of innocence, and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment.

i blogged about this in nov 2010, a whole year after the maguindanao massacre.   my beef then, as now, was, is, why the rights of the accused — in an open-and-shut case like this one — should be paramount to the rights of the victims and the public’s right to know.

the law is biased enough in favor of the accused.  back in the ’90s i remember hearing the late quezon city regional trial court judge maximiano asuncion (branch 104) on tv saying that under our laws napakaraming karapatan ng akusado at iilan ang karapatan ng biktima o ng pamilyang naiwan ng biktima.  to be sure, i googled it, and the issue turns out to be a very current one in the international arena, and there are continuing attempts to balance the rights of victims with the rights of the accused.  check this out, and this.

of course the flip-flop only means another chain of motions for reconsideration atbp. which means a new round of delays, all in favor of the accused.  and of course one wonders about the sereno supreme court.  is this a show of judicial independence — that the president favors a televised trial does not count — or is this the beginning of a series of reversals, an augury of things to come?


  1. It seems to me this is a sign of independence and prudence at the Supreme Court. There is nothing wrong with changing a ruling if further information or insights come available. President Aquino wants to trumpet his crimefighting arrest successes, as if being tough were all there is to ridding the nation of corruption. As if FOI were irrelevant to that goal.

  2. isnt it precisely when things are “obvious” should we be wary of a judge being influenced by media perception?

    merong docu recently, about these cebu kids who were found guilty, di ba? but the docu’s argument was that media pressure forced a quick (and unjust) resolution of that case. did u see that docu?

  3. manuelbuencamino

    Our justice system favors the accused. It proceeds on the assumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The burden is on the prosecution. It’s frustrating when a crime where the perpetrator is obviously guilty takes a long time to adjudicate but that’s our system of justice, due process allows the accused to avail of all the remedies under the law.

  4. If the Corona Supreme Court intervened by not allowing the Senate Impeachment Court to televise, it could have yielded a different result. Looking back, I wonder if the Supreme Court could have intervened and prevented full media coverage of the events, can any of you guys please clarify this for me?

    • joji-Diehard Pinoy

      bert :-)..The Supreme Court cannot intervene in preventing full media coverage at the Senate Impeachment Court simply because of the separation of powers between the three branches of govt. Also, the Impeachment Court has a quasi-judicial powers emanating from the political mandate of the legislative govt. duly elected by the people, as Sen. Enrile has defined its ctatus as “sui generis”, unique by itself.
      My 5centavos worth of opinion.

      • Thank you, joji, for the clarification. Still, Corona, having suffered so much humiliations from the impeachment proceedings, I think could have opted for a path of less risk of personal degradation by having his gang in the Supreme Court render a decision not to televise the proceedings even at the risk of a constitutional crisis. If only for self-preservation, I believe the Supreme Court at that time could have done anything. As we all know, it was not only Corona whose head was under the Sword of Damocles so to speak but the other justices too. I think Corona had too much faith in the capabilities of Justice Cuevas he was not able to see the political tsunami of a political decision that was going to be rendered by the senators pandering to the viewing public.

          • I totally agree with you, joji, and am glad Corona impeached and convicted. I was just speculating, wondering, all water under the bridge now, what could have been the resultant consequences if Corona and his gang ruled against televising the impeachment trial. For all we know, and in spite of Enrile’s posturing at the time before the start of the trial, it could have been even possible that the Senate would have acquiesced to the wishes of the Supreme Court if it pushes hard, with the backing of Gloria and her political backers thus avoiding a constitutional crisis.

    • Interesting article. We can see why the delays. The problem rests with the judge, and the law. The risk is always that the judge, in making a ruling, would cross the rules and result in a case being appealed and tossed later. Which seems to happen a lot in the Philippines where case law is not as important to rulings as pesos.

      Is the judge on this case weak, or constrained by rules? As an avid reader of John Grisham novels, I can say that I have an impeccible understanding of American judicial process, and they would not stand for being yanked around by attorneys. It’s like the lunatics (attorneys) are indeed in charge of the Philippine judicial chambers.

      Judges should be jailed if they can’t complete a trial in six months, as an affront to the notion that speed IS justice.