THE SUPREME COURT has granted a petition for live coverage of the Ampatuan Massacre trial filed by media advocacy groups, TV networks, individual journalists, and academics from the University of the Philippines. But it has imposed conditions some media organizations are already describing as difficult if not impossible to meet. Some are already talking about filing a motion for Court reconsideration of some of the conditions. Others may decide not to cover the trial at all.
Among the guidelines media organizations find problematic is the Court’s requiring coverage of the entire proceedings each time there are hearings. The trial is currently being held twice a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays), and usually lasts from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Any TV or radio station that applies for and is granted permission (one of the conditions the Court is imposing) to cover the trial Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is conducting would have to devote as much as five hours of coverage each time. No interruptions and commercial breaks are allowed except during recess periods, and no repeat broadcasts will be allowed on pain of the RTC’s withdrawing the station’s permit.
Practically everyone who’s not part of the Malacanang Mafia of conmen, plunderers, congressmen you wouldn’t buy a used car from, and relics of the martial law period has weighed in with his or her opinion on why there are plans afoot to impeach Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Mostly they’ve linked it to the wide-ranging conspiracy to keep the present Palace occupant in power beyond 2010.
Former Senate President Franklin Drilon thus said it’s part of a “grand scheme” to force amendments to the Constitution so our cross, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, can extend her term. In his own statements Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed Drilon’s take, as did Makati Mayor and United Opposition chair Jejomar Binay.
They could very well be right. Although the retirement of seven justices this year (Ruben Reyes retired last January 3, while Adolf Azcuna will retire next month, followed by Dante Tinga on May 11, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago on October 5, Leonardo Quisumbing on November 5, Minita Chico-Nazario on December 5 and Ma. Alicia Martinez on December 19) will give the Philippine Bush the opportunity to further pack the Court, she’s running out of time as far as charter change is concerned.