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On March 13, 2001, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng

Pilipinas, thru its President, Mr. Ruperto S. Nicdao, Jr.,
wrote to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., to be allowed
the privileged (sic)of covering the anticipated trials in the
Sandiganbayan of the plunder cases against former
President Joseph E. Estrada. On April 3, 2001, the Court,
among others, required Presiding Justice Francis E.
Garchitorena of the Sandiganbayan to comment on the
On April 5, 2001, Mr. Cesar N. Sarino wrote a similar
letter to the Chief Justice requesting x x x the Supreme
Court to allow live television coverage of the trial of former
President Estrada. On April 16, 2001, Senator Renato
Cayetano also prayed for the live coverage, by media of the
said trial subject to the conditions that the Supreme Court
may impose. On the same date, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, thru its President, Arthur D. Lim, opposed the
live radioTV coverage of said trial.
On April 17, 2001, Secretary of Justice Hernando B.
Perez also filed a petition for live radio and television
coverage of the said cases subject to whatever guidelines
the Honorable Supreme Court may provide under the
premises. The petition carried the conformity of the
Honorable Aniano A. Desierto, Ombudsman. On


Smith, supra.


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April 24, 2001, the same request for live media coverage
was made by a group of businessmen led by Atty. Ricardo
Romulo of the Makati Business Club.
On April 30, 2001, Presiding Justice Garchitorena
submitted his Comment. He informed the Court that he
sought the opinion of the other members of the
Sandiganbayan. He stated that six (6) of the Justices of the
Sandiganbayan were against the radioTV coverage while
eight (8) were in favor. He submitted their varying views for
the consideration of this Court.
On May 4, 2001, the Court required former President
Estrada to comment on the petition of the Secretary of
Justice. On May 21, 2001 former President Estrada, thru
counsel, opposed the petition for live radioTV coverage of
his trials in the Sandiganbayan. He cited the need to
preserve the rule of law and warned that radio and
television as media can be easily manipulated for
propaganda purposes. He alleged that the communicative
effect of live TV and radio coverage is much greater than
print coverage and the freedom of television and radio
broadcasting is somewhat lesser in scope than the freedom
accorded in newspaper and print media. The opposition
was fortified by a Supplemental Comment filed on May 30,
The Courts en banc resolution of October 22, 1991
absolutely prohibits live TV and radio coverage of court
hearings. Its rationale is explained, thus:

While we take notice of the September 1990 report of the United

States Judicial Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in the
Courtroom, still the current rule obtaining in the Federal Courts
of the United States prohibits the presence of television cameras
in criminal trials. Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure forbids the taking of photographs during the progress
of judicial proceedings or radio broadcasting of such proceedings
from the courtroom. A trial of any kind or in any court is a
matter of serious importance to all concerned and should not be
treated as a means of entertainment. To so treat it deprives the
court of the dignity which pertains to it and departs from the
orderly and serious quest for truth for which our judicial
proceedings are formulated.
Courts do not discriminate against radio and television media
by forbidding the broadcasting or televising of a trial while
permitting the newspaper reporter access to the courtroom, since
a television or news



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan

of the Plunder Cases Against the Former President Joseph E.

reporter has the same privilege, as the news reporter is not

permitted to bring his typewriter or printing press into the
In Estes vs. Texas, the United States Supreme Court held that
television coverage of judicial proceedings involves an inherent
denial of the due process rights of a criminal defendant. Voting 5
4, the Court through Mr. Justice Clark, identified four (4) areas
of potential prejudice which might arise from the impact of the
cameras on the jury, witnesses, the trial judge and the
defendant. The decision in part pertinently stated:

Experience likewise has established the prejudicial effect of telecasting on

witnesses. Witnesses might be frightened, play to the camera, or become
nervous. They are subject to extraordinary outofcourt influences which
might affect their testimony. Also, telecasting not only increases the trial
judges responsibility to avoid actual prejudice to the defendant, it may as
well affect his own performance. Judges are human beings also and are
subject to the same psychological reactions as laymen. For the defendant,
telecasting is a form of mental harassment and subjects him to excessive
public exposure and distracts him from the effective presentation of his
The television camera is a powerful weapon which intentionally or

inadvertently can destroy an accused and his case in the eyes of the public.

Representatives of the press have no special standing to apply

for a writ of mandate (sic) to compel a court to permit them to
attend a trial, since within the courtroom a reporters
constitutional rights are no greater than those of any other
member of the public. Massive intrusion of representatives of the
news media into the trial itself can so alter or destroy the
constitutionally necessary judicial atmosphere and decorum that
the requirements of impartiality imposed by due process of law
are denied the defendant and a defendant in a criminal
proceeding should not be forced to run a gauntlet of reporters
and photographers each time he enters or leaves the courtroom.
Considering the prejudice it poses to the defendants right to due
process as well as to the fair and orderly administration of justice,
and considering further that the freedom of the press and the right of
the people to information may be served and satisfied by less
distracting, degrading and prejudicial means, live radio and
television coverage of court proceedings shall not be allowed. Video
footages of court hearings for news purposes shall be restricted and
limited to shots of the courtroom, the judicial officers, the parties
and their counsel taken prior to the commencement of


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official proceedings. No video shots or photographs shall be

permitted during the trial proper. (emphasis supplied)

In banning live radio and television coverage of criminal

proceedings, the Court stressed that it weighed the
constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, the right
of the public to information and the right to public trial on
one hand, and on the other hand, the due process rights of
the defendant and the inherent and constitutional power of
the courts to control their proceedings in order to permit
the fair and impartial administration of justice. It also
considered the nature of media, particularly television and
its role in society and of the impact of new technologies on
After the lapse of ten (10) years, I respectfully submit
that the 1991 resolution of this Court absolutely banning
live radio and television coverage of criminal proceedings
should be reexamined to readjust the balance between a
free press and a fair trial in the light of the continuing
progress in communications technology and to expand the
right of access of the press and the public to information
without, however, impairing the right of an accused to due
I. Estes case has been modified by
subsequent cases

Estes vs. Texas,1 the linchpin of this Courts 1991 resolution

is a 1965 decision where the US Supreme Court first
resolved the prejudicial effects of incourt camera to the
right of an accused to due process of law. In a 54 decision,
the conviction of the accused Estes was set aside in light of
the factual finding that television coverage infringed his
right to fair trial. It found that during the preliminary
hearing, cables and wires were snaked across the
courtroom floor, three microphones were on the judges
bench and others were beamed at the jury box and the
counsels table.2 The Court considered the circuslike
atmosphere created by media as


381 US 532 (1965).
Id. at 544.



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the
Former President Joseph E. Estrada

incongruous to the due process right of the accused. The

Estes decision resulted in most of the states completely
banning cameras in the courtroom but a few others
experimented with the cameras and subjected their use to
strict guidelines. Among the states that experimented was
In 1981, the Florida rules allowing television coverage of
criminal trials were challenged in Chandler v. Florida.4 The
case involved a charge of burglary, against two police
officers of Miami Beach. Over objections of the two accused,
their trial was televised and they were convicted. On
appeal, they contended that the TV coverage infringed their
right to fair trial. The US Supreme Court, through Chief
Justice Burger, affirmed their conviction. It held that the
appellants did not present empirical data sufficient to
establish that the mere presence of the broadcast media
inherently has an adverse effect on that process. 5 It ruled
that appellants failed to prove specific prejudice. Chief
Justice Burger observed that since the Estes case,
technological progress had allowed media to minimize the
disruptive effects of cameras in the courtroom. The Court

An absolute constitutional ban on broadcast coverage of trials

cannot be justified simply because there is a danger that, in some
cases, prejudicial broadcast accounts of pretrial and trial events
may impair the ability of jurors to decide the issue of guilt or
innocence uninfluenced by extraneous matter. The risk of juror
prejudice in some cases does not justify an absolute ban on news
coverage of trials by the printed media so also the risk of such
prejudice does not warrant an absolute constitutional ban on all
broadcast coverage. The appropriate safeguard against such
prejudice is the defendants right to demonstrate that the
medias coverage of his casebe it printed or broadcast
compromised the ability of the particular jury that heard the
case to adjudicate fairly.6 (emphasis supplied)

After Estes, the US Supreme Court in a series of landmark

cases also struck the proper balance between freedom of the
press and


Colorado was the first state to allow televised trial after Estes
449 US 560 (1981).
Id. at 578579.
Id. at 574575.


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restrictions on medias access to courtrooms visavis the

right of an accused to fair trial. The first significant case is
the 1976 case of Nebraska Press Association v. Stewart. 7 In
this case, the accused was charged with six (6) counts of
murder. The Nebraska state trial judge issued an order
restraining the press from reporting, inter alia, on the
following subjects: the existence and contents of the
accuseds confession the nature of his statements to other
persons and the contents of a note written by the accused
on the night of the crime. Reviewing the order, the US
Supreme Court held that when imposing a prior restraint
on publication, a trial judge must examine (a) the nature
and extent of pretrial news coverage (b) whether other
measures would be likely to mitigate the effects of
unrestrained pretrial publicity and (c) how effectively a
restraining order would operate to prevent the threatened
danger.8 It held that pretrial publicityeven pervasive,
adverse publicitydoes not inevitably lead to an unfair
trial.9 It affirmed the right of the press to publish
information concerning court proceedings even as it held
that trial judges have the major responsibility to protect the
accuseds right to a fair trial.10
In 1980, the US Supreme Court decided Richmond
Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia,11 a murder case where the
accuseds motion that the courtroom be closed to the public
was granted by the trial judge. Richmond Newspapers
moved to vacate the order but its motion was denied both
by the trial court and the Virginia Supreme Court. On
certiorari, the US Supreme Court reversed. Writing the
plurality opinion, Chief Justice Burger held that criminal
trials were historically open that there is an implicit right
of access to criminal trials under the first amendment
guarantees of free press, free speech and freedom of
assembly and the right to publish would be negated if the
press was denied access to a trial. He also opined that for
the justice system to work, the system must satisfy the
appearance of justice, which is best provided


427 US 539 (1976).
Id. at 562.
Id. at 554.
Id. at 555.
448 US 555 (1980).



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the
Former President Joseph E. Estrada
by allowing people to observe the judicial process. 12 Be that
as it may, he stressed that medias right of access is not
absolute but subject to limitations.13
In 1982 came the case of Globe Newspaper Co. v.
Superior Court,14 where the US Supreme Court reviewed a
Massachusetts law that required trial judges to exclude the
press and the public from the courtroom during the
testimony of a minor victim of certain sexual offenses.
Writing for the majority, Justice Brennan voided the law on
the ground that it violated the first amendment. Again, the
court emphasized that criminal trials have been historically
open to the public and that access to trial allows for public
scrutiny of the judicial process, which in turn enhances the
integrity of the factfinding process.15 The Court again
stressed that the right of access is not absolute.16

II. Objection as to ill effect on

dignity and decorum has long receded

The Court resolution of 1991 absolutely banning televised

trial was also premised on the disruptive effect of cameras
on the dignity and decorum in the courtroom. It should be
noted, however, that this debasement of dignity and
decorum argument relied upon in Estes was due to the
intolerable physical disturbances caused by annoying
equipment, cables, lighting and unsophisticated technicians
in the decade of the sixties. With the quantum leap in
communications technology in the last twenty (20) years,
TV cameras are now less intrusive and disruptive. Indeed,
various states have imposed rules successfully regulating
whatever interference cameras may have on the dignity and
decorum of judicial proceedings. Maryland, for example,
has clear rules setting down the technical requirements for
television and still cameras and photographers, types of
microphones to be used, noise limitations, placement in


Id. at 571.
Id. at 581.
457 US 596 (1982).
Id. at 605.
Id. at 606.

VOL. 360, JUNE 29, 2001 291
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courtroom and restrictions on movement of personnel and
equipment.17 More progress in audiovisual technology can
be expected in the immediate future and this objection that
TV cameras in the courtroom will create chaos in judicial
proceedings will just be a part of the museum of history. 18

III. An overwhelming majority of the states now

allow radioTV coverage of criminal trials.

The absolute ban against radioTV coverage of criminal trial

has now been lifted in majority of the states in the United
States. After the 1965 decision in Estes, and for eleven (11)
years, all19 the states prohibited TV coverage of criminal
trials.20 By 1978, however, six (6) states Alabama,
Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, Texas and Washington
allowed televised trials, twelve (12) states Alaska,
California, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana,
North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennesee, West Virginia and
Wisconsinpermitted televised trial on an experimental
basis.21 After the decision in Chandler, forty seven (47)
states now allow television


See Md. R. Ct. Admin. 1209, Md. Ann. Code (1985).
See In re Hearings Concerning Canon 35, 296 P.2d 465, 468 (Colo.
1956) where following demonstrations of camera equipment, the Court held
that prohibition of cameras in the courtroom is no longer required to
maintain dignity and decorum.
Except Colorado.
See McCall, Cameras in the Criminal Courtroom: A Sixth
Amendment Analysis, Vol. 85 Col. Law Rev, 1546, 1549 (1985).
Lassiter, TV or Not TVThat is the Question, The Journal of
Criminal Law and Criminology, 928, 1940 Vol. 86, No. 3 (1996).



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the
Former President Joseph E. Estrada
coverage.22 Only three (3) states ban cameras in the
courtroomNew York, South Dakota and Mississippi.23
Television is today24 arguably the most powerful medium
of communication. Its communicative influence is
qualitatively different and is distinctively unique. For this
reason and more, there is clear growing body of literature
from known legal scholars postulating that an absolute ban
on televised trials constitutes a violation of the press and
public right of access.25
The principal arguments favoring televised trial are well
laid out and can hardly be refuted.
Firstly, an open trial has a great value. In Press
Enterprise v. Superior Court,26 it was underscored:

The value of openness lies in the fact that people not actually
attending trials can have confidence that standards of fairness
are being observed the sure knowledge that anyone is free to
attend gives assurance


22 69 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1519 citing RadioTelevision News Directors Assn., News

Media Coverage of Judicial Proceedings with Cameras and Microphones: A Survey

of the States iiii (1994). Federal courts, however, have maintained the ban. Rule 53

of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, provides that the taking of photographs

in the courtroom during the progress of judicial proceedings or radio broadcasting of

judicial proceedings from the courtroom shall not be permitted by the court.

23 Cameras in Court, Judge Lets the Light Shine In, Syracuse HeraldJournal,

January 27, 2000, p. A10.

24 Statistics show that as of 1985, television was the principal source of news for

64% of the American public and the sole source of news for nearly half of the

countrys population. Lassiter, op cit., p. 913.

25 Lassiter, op cit., p. 959 citing among others Reimer, supra, Krigier, The 13th

Juror: Electronic Medias Struggle to Enter State and Federal Courtrooms, 3 Comm.

Law Conspectus 71 (1995) Lively, Modern Media and the First Amendment:

Rediscovering Freedom of the Press, 67 Wash. L. Rev. 599 (1992) Katsh, The First

Amendment and Technological Change: The New Media Have a Message, 57 Geo

Wash L Rev 1459 (1989) Frank, Cameras in the Courtroom: A First Amendment

Right of Access, T.V., 9 Hasting Comm. and Ent. L.J. 749 (1987) Gardner, Cameras

in the Courtroom: Guidelines for State Criminal Trials, 84 Mich L Rev. 475 (1985).

26 478 US 1 (1984).


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that established procedures are being followed and that

deviations will become known. Openness thus enhances both the
basic fairness of the criminal trial and the appearance of fairness
so essential to public confidence in the system. (emphasis


In Richmond Newspaper,27 it was rightly out that openness

is more important in the trial of high profile cases because
of its prophylactic effect, viz.:

When a shocking crime occurs, a community reaction of outrage

and public protest often follows . . . Thereafter, the open processes
of justice serve an important prophylactic purpose, providing an
outlet for community concern, hostility and emotion. Without an
awareness that societys responses to criminal conduct are
underway, natural human reactions of outrage and protest are
frustrated and may manifest themselves in some form of
vengeful self help, as indeed they did regularly in the activities
of vigilante committees on our frontiers . . . It is not enough to
say that results alone will satiate the natural community desire
for satisfaction. A result considered untoward may undermine
public confidence, and where trial has been concealed from
public view an unexpected outcome can cause a reaction that the
system at best has failed and at worst has been corrupted. To
work effectively, it is important that societys criminal process
satisfy the appearance of justice . . . and the appearance of
justice can best be provided by allowing people to observe it.
(emphasis supplied)

Without doubt, television can convey more completely and

accurately the substance and subtleties of judicial
proceedings to the public. As pointedly observed by
Gardner, unlike the print medium, television has the
capability to cover a trial in its entiretyevery word, every
sentence and every gesture.28 Thus, it has been
perceptively opined that the pervasiveness of television
makes it a superior device to disseminate information
about a trial.29
Second. It is a truism that an educated, enlightened and
vigilant citizenry makes democracy work. The need for the
citizenry to comprehend how its government fulfills its task
of efficiently serving the people cannot be overemphasized.
Again, Richmond emphasized the educative effect of
televised trials to the people, viz.:

27 Op cit. at 571572.
28 Reimer, supra, at p. 1299.
29 Gardner, supra, at p. 493.


Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

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When a criminal trial is conducted in the open, there is at least

an opportunity both for understanding the system in general and
its workings in a particular case. The educative effect of public
attendance is a material advantage. Not only is respect for the
law increased and intelligent acquaintance acquired with the
methods of government, but a strong confidence on judicial
remedies is secured which could never have been inspired by a
system of secrecy.30 (emphasis supplied)

Of the three branches of government, the judiciary is the

least known to the public because its nature does not allow
total transparency. Thus, testimonies which can
compromise national security are given in closed sessions,
court deliberations are traditionally not open to the public,
etc. Public, open trials of criminal cases under regulated
conditions furnish rare opportunities for the people to
understand and appreciate the business of the courts. In
the same vein, they give the courts the chance to gain the
peoples faith and confidence on the system of justice. As
well put by Justice Frankfurter, the public confidence in
the judiciary hinges on the publics perception of it, and
that perception necessarily hinges on the medias portrayal
of the legal system.31
Third. In a very informative article, Lassiter has
revealed that empirical studies show that cameras in the
courtroom do not have any negative effect on judicial
proceedings, viz.:32

Several states have conducted studies on the potential impact of

electronic media coverage on courtroom proceedings, particularly
focusing on the effect cameras have upon courtroom decorum and
upon witnesses, jurors, attorneys and judges. In all of these
states, the courts permitted electronic media coverage in both
civil and criminal proceedings, although the majority of coverage
was in criminal cases. The results from the state studies were
unanimous: the impact of electronic media coverage of courtroom
proceedings, whether civil or criminal, shows few side effects.


Op cit. at p. 572. This is an echo of Justice Clarks opinion in Estes
that television is capable of performing an educational function by
acquainting the public with the judicial process in action. Estes, supra at
p. 589.
Lassier, op cit. at p. 963.
Ibid., pp. 964965.


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In September 1990, the Judicial Conference of the United States

implemented what was to be a three year pilot program that
permitted electronic media coverage in civil proceedings in six
federal district courts and two circuit courts. The Federal
Evaluation indicated, among other things, that:

overall, attitudes of judges towards electronic media were

neutral and became more favorable after experience under the
experimental program.
generally, judges and attorneys who had experience with
electronic media coverage reported observing small or no
effects on camera presence on proceedings, participants,
courtroom decorum, or the administration of justice
overall, judges and court personnel reported that the media
were very cooperative and complied with program guidelines
and other restrictions that were imposed.

Indeed, the Federal Judicial Centers Summary of Findings

concluded that no negative impact resulted from having cameras
in the courtroom. In 1994, the Federal Judicial Center
specifically found that results from state court evaluations of the
effects of electronic media on jurors and witnesses indicate that
most respondents believe electronic media presence has minimal
or no detrimental effects on jurors or witnesses. As with the
handful of state surveys, the federal survey found that [m]ost
participants [say] electronic media presence has no or minimal
detrimental effects on jurors or witnesses. (emphasis supplied)
Fourth. Televised trial helps the press fulfill its role of
exposing miscarriage of justice. In Sheppard v. Maxwell,33
the Court acknowledged this checking power of the press
when it held that the press does not simply publish
information about trials but guards against the miscarriage
of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors and judicial
processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism.
It should, however, be stressed that televising trial is
still not without its danger to the constitutional right of an
accused to fair trial. Today, the greatest of these remaining
dangers is its adverse effect on the right of the accused to
have access to evidence, a right firmly anchored on the
constitutional rights to compulsory process


384 US 333, 350 (1966).



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

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and due process. Doubtless, the presence of television in the

courtroom can affect a witness. The accuracy of his
testimony may be compromised. His physical demeanor, so
important to trial judges to determine his credibility, may
become less natural under the klieglight. More importantly,
the fear of too much public exposure may cause reticent
witnesses not to testify. Any of these circumstances will
prejudice the right of an accused to a fair trial just as it will
frustrate the discovery of truth which is the objective of
judicial trial. But these probable dangers are not
insurmountable as other jurisdictions have demonstrated
that they can be minimized if not avoided by appropriate
rules regulating televised trials. An example will be a rule
which will not compel the televised testimony of any
witness for the accused upon his objection thereto. Such a
rule will also meet the objection that cameras in the
courtroom cause psychological intimidation to witnesses.

IV. On a case to case basis, televising

criminal trials should be addressed to
the sound discretion of the trial judge.
Live radioTV coverage of a criminal trial cannot be
demanded as a matter of right but its absolute denial is
also constitutionally suspect. It is therefore respectfully
submitted that the matter of whether or not the
proceedings in a criminal trial should be televised, totally
or partially, should be addressed to the sound discretion of
the trial judge on a case to case basis. The exercise of this
discretion will depend on the facts of each case and will
involve the delicate balancing of the constitutional right of
the accused to fair trial and due process of law, the press
and the public right of access to trials in criminal cases, the
right of the state to prosecute crimes effectively and the
duty of courts to ensure the fair and orderly administration
of justice. To be able to reasonably exercise his discretion,
the trial judge has to hear a partys motion seeking to
televise the proceedings or any portion thereof to
determine, among others, the standing of the movant, the
factual and legal bases of his asserted right and the
opposition thereto. No witness,


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especially a witness for the accused, upon his written

objection, should be compelled to have his testimony
televised. In balancing the above rights, the judge should
deny the motion, to televise trial upon specific proof of
prejudice and of reasonable likelihood that the right to fair
trial of the accused will be endangered.
Additionally, it shall be the duty of the trial judge to
provide and impose the necessary rules and regulations to
assure that the televised trial will not detract from the
solemnity, decorum and dignity of the court. Among others,
the rules and regulations should insure that: (1) the
television cameras and related equipments must be
unobtrusive, must not produce distracting sounds and shall
not in any manner interfere with the proceedings (2) the
media representatives shall present a neat appearance in
keeping with the dignity of the proceedings and should not
move unnecessarily about the court while it is in session
(3) no film, videotape, photography and audio reproductions
may be used for advertising or commercial purpose (4) only
a single fixed camera setup shall be installed in the
courtroom and the audiovideo output of the fixed setup will
be fed only to broadcast stations to avoid too many
photographers and TV camera crew in the courtroom and
(5) that radiotelevision broadcasters should give a balanced
coverage of the prosecution and the defense. The trial judge
should be given the power at any time to terminate the
televised proceedings upon a showing
that the right to a fair trial of the accused is being
prejudiced by its continuance.


With due respect, the majority has struck the balance

between free press and fair trial much too much to the
prejudice of the press and public right to information. It
has unduly sustained former President Estradas
generalized grievance that cameras in the courtroom will
bring about the collapse of the rule of law and the
hypothetical fear that they will psychologically intimidate
witnesses. It is all too obvious that the fear is a mere
figment of imagination for former President Estrada has
not named any witness with a phobia against publicity.
Indeed, the myth that television intimidates witnesses has
long been shattered to smithereens by empirical studies.
For not even requiring former President Es



Re: Request RadioTV Coverage of the Trial in the

Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the
Former President Joseph E. Estrada

trada to show actual prejudice to his right to fair trial, the

majority has modified our ruling case law on the matter.
The unjustified change to favor the former President will
cause undeserved damage to values we revere. It will, to a
large degree, throttle the right of the press to access to
information and choke the flow of knowledge to the people.
It is the people who govern in a democracy and they can
only govern well if they are fully informed. A people kept in
the dark by the blindfold of ignorance will only govern with
mistakes. Let it be stressed that the right of the people to
know is strongest in times of turbulence for it is when the
stakes to the State are high that they cannot afford to err
due to ignorance.
The majority refuses to see that the revolution on
communications technology is still going on. We have radio,
TV, telephones, cables, satellites, computers, wireless
communications, faxes, the internet, etc. Even our rules of
court now allow certain witnesses to testify in and off the
court via video teleconferencing. By outlawing television in
the trial of former President Estrada, the majority has
denied our people the opportunity to know completely and
accurately whether or not his trial will be fair and
impartial. All these because the majority has persisted in
the primitive belief that the courtroom is limited to the pad
and pencil reporters. The majority will bring about new Rip
Van Winkles in this age of electronic mediaWe. I dissent.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, I respectfully submit that the
absolute ban on televising criminal trials be lifted and the
petitions of the Secretary of Justice, the Kapisanan ng mga
Brodkaster ng Filipinas, Mr. Cesar Sarino, Atty. Ricardo
Romulo, et al., and Senator Renato Cayetano, to televise
the trial of the plunder cases against former President
Joseph E. Estrada as well as the oppositions of former
President Estrada and the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines thereto, be remanded to the Sandiganbayan for
proper disposition in accordance with the suggested
guidelines set forth above.