Review the criminal procedural rules for the sake of Philippine democracy
The undersigned journalists, participants in the Advanced Legal Competency Training organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and held at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati, Philippines from May 31 to June 1, call upon the Supreme Court to review the rules of court that are prone to abuse in order to hasten the resolution of cases involving the killing of journalists and media workers and of other men and women from other sectors of Philippine society.
The trial of the accused in the November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 men and women, of whom 32 were journalists and media workers, has demonstrated more than any other case in recent memory that these rules are the key impediments to the quick resolution of the case against the persons accused of planning and carrying out the massacre.
The trial has been stalled by endless hearings on the petitions for bail and numerous motions pending before the trial court and even other courts. Over the last two years since the trial began, the proceedings have been delayed again and again by numerous motions and petitions per week. At the rate the trial is going, its conclusion is likely to take place in the distant future.
And yet the speedy and credible outcome of the Ampatuan Massacre is vital to ending the culture of impunity which has driven the killing of journalists, judges, lawyers, human rights workers, and political activists in the Philippines. Should the trial continue to drag on, in the process demonstrating that even the vilest crimes are exempt from punishment, not only will the killers of journalists and others from different sectors of the population continue to be encouraged; the erosion of Philippine democracy, or what remains of it, will also accelerate to the further detriment of this country and its people.
The urgency of preventing this from happening cannot be overemphasized. Arresting the process, however, is doable, and among the most immediate remedies is the review of, and subsequent changes in, the Philippine rules of court.
1. Abaño, Robert Jaworski L. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
2. Antiquerra, John Reiner M. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility)
3. Balabo, Dino (Mabuhay)
4. Balane, Walter (MindaNews / Bukidnon News)
5. Barrameda Aubrey (BusinessWorld)
6. Cabigao, Fernando R. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility)
7. Catbagan, Marielle G. (ABS- CBN)
8. Cayabyab, Charlene (Punto Central Luzon)
9. Dalipe, Gerome (Sun.Star Cebu)
10. Dela Cruz, Anne Ednalyn (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism)
11. Gascon, Melvin (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
12. Luistro, Marlon (GMA Network Inc. /The Filipino Connection)
13. Macale, Bryant L. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility)
14. Mariveles, Julius (freelance)
15. Merueñas, Mark (GMA News.TV)
16. Ongsiako, Patricia (Solar News)
17. Palangchao, Harley (Baguio Midland Courier)
18. Pasion, Christopher (Pinoy Weekly)
19. Pinlac, Melanie Y. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility)
20. Raymundo, Kathryn Roja G. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility)
21. Reyes, Carmela Estrope (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
22. Santos, Rey (Rappler)
23. Villar, Madelyn (dzEC)