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...