Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TWO WRITS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT

Sabong Journalism is definitely in the air now that a major escalation has occurred in the word war between Mass Media Celebrities and the President's Men. The usual provocateurs in Holy Journalism's clothing have put the Judiciary on a dangerous collision course with the Executive.

The Supreme Court justices are now being wooed by clever Media folks with a clear promise of everlasting gratitude and the keys to fame and glory, if not high public office, in the Front Pages and Prime Time Newscasts, to use those two legal confections from South America called the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data against their recent tormentors. ("Fascists!")

But there isn't anything magical about these bonbons of rule-making, it turns out, and one soon discovers their potential for abuse and record of corruption in those places that have adopted them.

TIME Magazine Exposes Corrupt Amparo Glut in Mexico


hat will be the future of the Writ of Amparo in the Philippines? You only have to look at the atrocious mess they've created in Mexico, where a huge backlog in amparo cases has made it the Law Breaker's favorite Writ of Delay, as TIME Magazine reports in its December 18 issue. In Mexico the writ of Amparo has been a major money making business for corrupt judges. With a backlog of a million unresolved cases, the Philippine Judiciary needs the Writ of Amparo like a hole in the head. The new "sunrise industry" for judges is getting a mighty big boost from the Manila Pen caper fallout.

ABSCBN television network employees arrested at the Manila Pen last December during Trillanes' mischievous caper, including media heavyweight ABSCBN's Ces Drilon, and nine others, have filed for a Writ of Amparo with the Supreme Court against DILG Sec. Ronnie Puno, Sec. Raul Gonzalez and Police Chief Avelino Razon, demanding that their arrests be declared illegal. But since they've all been released and held but briefly, Serge Apostol is right, the suit should be thrown out for being moot and academic. They also pray that authorities be enjoined from issuing further threats to arrest them if they break the law or disobey lawful orders in emergency situations. Ahem, those are "threats" to enforce the law! Are journalists above the Law? Susmaryosep!

A very curious slip of the tongue came from ABSCBN's Maria Ressa today talking to Tony Velasquez and Twink Macaraeg about the case. Ms. Ressa called the new Rule on Amparo "a new law" that has never been used before in this manner. She described their filing as a "test case for the Supreme Court."

Considering the high profile nature of this case, I really can't see how the Supreme Court can possible discharge its duties in a cold, impartial matter, since there now seems to be a conflict of interest, or at least of amor propio, between our increasingly activistic High Court and the authorities that must deal with threats to the State and public order.

I think this is significant on two counts. First, the Supreme Court is usurping the powers of Congress and wantonly violating the Constitution by creating a Rule of Court that cannot but modify, diminish or increase some body's substantive individual or institutional rights because the Media and the Govt are in a perpertual adversarial state of high polarization and their pending Decision cannot avoid that violation if it is to be substantive itself.

Second, it is becoming clear that with its "innovative writ of amparo" the Supreme Court has opened up a Pandora's Box that could further swamp and paralyze the Judiciary with useless, frivolous or malicious petitions, as well as vastly expand the opportunities for corruption by judges and other officials of the Court system.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention the year of that TIME Magazine Dec. 18 exposé. It was 1950!

Chief Justice Reynato Puno delivered a speech on the Writ of Habeas Data recently.

You know what I think about habeas data? It could threaten Press Freedom, Academic Research and the Right to Know. More on this in previous and future posts...

22 comments:

rr said...

Wow, just look at what that 4 foot midget can do, has done and will do! Tsk, tsk tsk, gloria gives midgets a bad name.

manuelbuencamino said...

Deanie,

I bet you get a hard on everytime you read this - "WE ARE PREPARED TO LOSE OUR FREEDOMS AND OUR RIGHTS JUST TO MOVE THIS COUNTRY FORWARD." - BONG AUSTERO

Of course moving forward to you is moving closer to a national security state

DJB Rizalist said...

Bong Austero is an IDIOT if he said that. I'm a gradualist not a knucklehead.

DJB Rizalist said...

MB,
Freedoms, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, press freedom, freedom to travel, etc., are compounds whose two elements are RIGHTS and DUTIES.

The rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be freely exercised by all to the extent that they do not deprive others of a substantially equal right or opportunity to these PRIMARY SOCIAL GOODS.

Now, we must accept that these Rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness contain a specific order or priority that any reasonable citizen accepts upon recognizing its existence.

Consider for example a situation in which publishing the name of a certain person could result in his being unjustly killed. Here is a situation where clearly the Right to Life of one person ought to have priority over the Liberty we call Press Freedom, or the pursuit of happiness of a gossip columnist.

The existence of such a LEXICAL priority among rights comes from the theory of justice as a moral concept.

The actions of the mass media in the instant case of the Manila Pen incident and its aftermath are reprehensible and anti-democratic, denigrates liberty and endangers ALL our freedoms by provoking a confrontation of hubris and amor propio.

The mass media were simply wrong at the Manila Pen. They ought to apologize if they want to regain the moral high ground with the public, who are tsk tsking at them every day.

Infantiles!

manuelbuencamino said...

"The actions of the mass media in the instant case of the Manila Pen incident and its aftermath are reprehensible and anti-democratic, denigrates liberty and endangers ALL our freedoms by provoking a confrontation of hubris and amor propio.

The mass media were simply wrong at the Manila Pen. They ought to apologize if they want to regain the moral high ground with the public, who are tsk tsking at them every day."


That's your your opinion. One I'm sure Raul Gonzalez, Razon, and Esperon would endorse enthusiastically.

stuart-santiago said...

para sa akin, the bottomline is, what did ces drilon et al accomplish by their actuations during the manila pen siege? did the public learn anything new about the trillanes caper that we didn't know yet? or did we just learn how far the media will go for a scoop? if the latter, well, information like that we don't need.

manuelbuencamino said...

stuart,

if no one covered it you wouldn't have known it happened.

DJB Rizalist said...

MB,
No one is saying you can't cover a coup attempt, stand off caper, or mardi gras. But we must give the police the RIGHT to say, "Hey folks, we believe our lives might be in danger if you hang around here coz you could get in the way of a violent confrontation."

In such a case, the media must give the police the benefit of the doubt and obey the lawful orders to vacate.

They can report, but not at the cost of increasing by even one whit, the danger to life and limb.

Priority of rights, man. It's common sense.

stuart-santiago said...

sorry, i should have been clearer. i meant, after the police ordered the media to clear out and they didn't because they insisted on covering the event some more, to inform the public some more. at that point, inform us of what? that trillanes et all were surrendering? we would have found that out eventually, from the outside.

Jego said...

The reporters have a right to stay and cover a coup attempt, stand off caper, or mardi gras. I just dont see an order to stop covering the event as lawful since "no law shall be passed abridging the blah-blah-blah", which to me means "No order abridging blah-blah-blah can be given by the authorities. They choose to stay despite the warnings, then so be it. They shouldnt assume the police know who they are. By staying, the press waives the right to whine afterwards and the cops are free from liability if someone from the press gets killed in the operation. Besides, the duty of the reporter is to file the report. If he or she gets killed, that's a dereliction of duty. ;-)

And to be fair to Mr. Austero, he said "We are prepared to lose SOME of our rights...." He did not elaborate on which rights he was prepared to lose. I suppose he meant the right to peacefully assemble as he was railing about the street demonstrations at the time.

Jego said...

By staying, the press waives the right to whine afterwards and the cops are free from liability if someone from the press gets killed in the operation.

The sounded harsh. I assume of course that the cops should exercise all that is necessary so that there are no casualties.

stuart-santiago said...

indeed, jego,

"By staying, the press waives the right to whine afterwards and the cops are free from liability if someone from the press gets killed in the operation."

in fact by staying they betrayed a bias for trillanes et al, even, a willingness to act as human shields. at least that's what it seemed to me.

Anna said...

Jego,

"I assume of course that the cops should exercise all that is necessary so that there are no casualties"

Problem with that is you can't trust your PNP to do what is necessary to whatever.

Anna said...

Jego,

"I assume of course that the cops should exercise all that is necessary so that there are no casualties"

Problem with that is you can't trust your PNP to do what is necessary to whatever.

tiki said...

If they had wanted to make sure that there were no casualities or property damaged in the first place, then they should have stopped Trillanes from walking out of the court room. Why didn't they?

Instead of complaining about the media, I think the government, including police and the military, should fix its own problems first, including those raised by Trillanes (e.g., lack of equipment and even food for soldiers, etc.).

balimbing said...

DJB, one of these days, if and when you find yourself in the midst of a confrontation between your beloved PNP and the media, and you become collateral damage while PNP and GMA's goons are protecting themselves, and you become a stat with no one to account for your whereabouts, you might understand too late you are on the wrong side.

DJB, admit that you are now a GMA fan.

manuelbuencamino said...

stuart,

"... we would have found that out eventually, from the outside."

Precisely. We would have the story as told by the poluce to reporters.

I'd rather see it as it unfolds and draw my own conclusions.

DJB Rizalist said...

Balimbing,

Given my generally sedentary and conservative lifestyle, such an occasion is highly improbable.

As for my "beloved" PNP, I am sure that they are no more and no less than any journalist just trying to do a job.

Roughly speaking the cops have to defend our rights to life, limb and property. That's what a law enforcer does.

Journalists satisfy our right to know and freedom of speech and expression. They play an essential role in society. But these rights do not have priority if exercising them would interfere unjustly or unfairly with the exercise of the higher priority right.

balimbing said...

DJB,

It is hard to go against reason, and what you say, are saying, is reasonable. The problem is that our police(the ones with the guns and tanks, if you did not notice) does not exercise the power to police but the power of a macho policeman. Rambo in fatigue, khaki, if you like!

We want everybody to follow the law, to be treated equally, yada, yada, yada. Yet, Virtually no one in GMA's gov. follow the law!

You know all this, right? Get off that high horse, DJB.

MBW said...

Re: ""We are prepared to lose SOME of our rights...." Bong Austero

Wonder which rights austere Bong is prepared to lose.

Anonymous said...

why were the police so concerned with media presence during that coup attempt anyway? they should've just let them die, stressing such act of commitment and patriotism.

i'm not saying that i'm all for what the police did. there were a lot of people. media presence should've already reminded the police that "hey, the public is watching so we should be concerned with what everyone would think of us after this incident. we're trained professionals after all.", but still they bludgeoned their way to the hotel for what, a bunch of loudmouths?

but if ever media people get trapped in a fight, for example, between the military and npa, both camps should let the media cover, if they would still want to (just like what that gma reporter did during the beheading incident in mindanao), even if it would cost their lives!

the commitment and integrity of an individual should be respected, and the state should ensure its protection. objectivity should prevail kaya dapat nakatuon lang sa mga roles nila ang bawat isa, hindi yung nagsisitahan base sa special concern tulad ng ginagawa ng admin.

DJB Rizalist said...

anon,

and what of the policemen's lives? don't they have a right to life? the mere presence of the journalists was actually the biggest complicating factor involved in serving the arrest warrants and securing the scene. the media simply got in the way.

they were wrong and ought to all go to jail for obstruction of common sense!