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Archive for the ‘CenterLaw’ Category

May it please the Court

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For nearly an hour,  I stood and made my case before the gods of Mt. Olympus, my heart in my mouth.  It was my very first time to actually argue before the Philippine Supreme Court — and I was  co-counsel to Prof. Harry Roque in a petition we filed on behalf of  residents of the Province of Palawan in their bid to get a rightful share in the proceeds of the Malampaya oil and gas wells.  Our case rested on the constitutionalization of the international legal regime of the Continental Shelf and the constitutional and statutory grant of fiscal autonomy for local governments.

I barely survived the intense  questioning — for the most part, by  Justices Antonio Carpio and Teresita De Castro. We were given 25 minutes to make our arguments. Prof. Roque, who was first to argue, took 17 minutes to discuss the first three points of our case. I  took care of the last two points in 8 minutes. But the interpellation took much longer. Prof. Roque was grilled for a little more than two hours, and I, for nearly an hour.

When it was all  over, I was simply thankful that I survived the ordeal without throwing up or fainting in shame and terror. It was an unforgettable day for another reason — the oral arguments were held a day after the Maguindanao Massacre.  The very next day, I took the earliest flight to Davao City  to head for Maguindanao  and see how the Center for International Law may assist authorities and families of the victims in the quest for justice.

The photo below was taken after the oral arguments. (From L-R: Me,  Prof.  Roque, Dr. Raul C. Pangalangan and the DFA’s Mr. Henry Bensurto, the latter two being amici curiae in the case).

The same photo introduces the sixth and last installment in the SIX BIG QUESTIONS project of Gideon Strauss, senior fellow of the US-based Center for Public Justice.   In this project,  I join several guest bloggers in his blog in answering, in 250 words or less, six questions that deal with faith, character, vision and personal context.  What contributions am I called to make? And my response is found here. For my fifth post, click here.







Written by Romel

November 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Strictly Politics: Free Expression and the Supreme Court on live media coverage of the Maguindanao Massacre trial

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A television camera in court?

The European Court of Human Rights  has said that that there could be discussion of court proceedings as they were taking place, and that reporting including comment on court proceedings contributes to their publicity and is thus perfectly consonant with the rule  that hearings be in public. Moreover the media’s task of imparting information to the public and the public’s right to receive it, is all the more so where a public figure is involved, to wit:

[Para.] 50.  Restrictions on freedom of expression permitted by the second paragraph of Article 10 “for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary” do not entitle States to restrict all forms of public discussion on matters pending before the courts.

 There is general recognition of the fact that the courts cannot operate in a vacuum. Whilst the courts are the forum for the determination of a person’s guilt or innocence on a criminal charge (see paragraph 40 above), this does not mean that there can be no prior or contemporaneous discussion of the subject matter of criminal trials elsewhere, be it in specialised journals, in the general press or amongst the public at large (see, mutatis mutandis, the Sunday Times (no. 1) judgment cited above, p. 40, § 65).

 Provided that it does not overstep the bounds imposed in the interests of the proper administration of justice, reporting, including comment, on court proceedings contributes to their publicity and is thus perfectly consonant with the requirement under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that hearings be public. Not only do the media have the task of imparting such information and ideas: the public also has a right to receive them (ibid.). This is all the more so where a public figure is involved, such as, in the present case, a former member of the Government. Such persons inevitably and knowingly lay themselves open to close scrutiny by both journalists and the public at large (see, among other authorities, the Lingens v. Austria judgment of 8 July 1986, Series A no. 103, p. 26, § 42). Accordingly, the limits of acceptable comment are wider as regards a politician as such than as regards a private individual [1]

[1] App No 83/1996/702/894, 29 August 1997.

We recently appeared on ANC’s Strictly Politics talk show hosted Ms. Pia Hontiveros to discuss the Supreme Court’s new guidelines for the live radio and television coverage of the Maguidanao Massacre trial. Prof. Theodore Te of the UP College of Law and Mrs. Melinda Quintos-De Jesus of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility were also guests.  Excerpts from of the talk show episode may be viewed here.

Written by Romel

June 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

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Government forces should allow humanitarian convoys into evacuation centers in Maguindanao

Newsbreak magazine has featured a statement we at the Center for International Law issued over the dire condition in makeshift camps of thousands of civilians displaced by renewed fighting in Central Mindanao between government forces and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Written by Romel

July 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

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