EN BANC RESOLUTION
and Radio Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C. Aquino’s
for your information, is a Resolution of the Court En Banc
October 22, 1991.
TV and Radio Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C. Aquino’s
February 11, 1991 was
no ordinary day for the Regional Trial Court of Manila, particularly
35 thereof. Calendared for hearing that day was Criminal Case No.
entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Luis Beltran," and
to testify for the prosecution was no less than Her Excellency,
sought and obtained by Presiding Judge Ramon Makasiar, the hearing was
held at the session hall of the Manila City Council to accommodate the
large audience. The proceedings were telecast live by several
stations, Judge Makasiar having granted on February 7, 1991 the request
of Ms. Ida F. Vargas of the Presidential Broadcast Staff to televise
proceedings in said case.
The day after the
trial, Sectoral Representative Arturo A. Borjal wrote Justice Marcelo
Fernan lamenting the live coverage by several television stations of
court proceedings. In his letter, Borjal stated that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x in the United States and other democratic countries, live TV
and radio coverage is strictly prohibited under their Rules of Court.
such practice tends to undermine the integrity of and decorum in
to this letter so that, if deemed necessary, I could initiate the
the Supreme Court En Banc required Judge Makasiar to comment on
the letter of Congressman Borjal. Complying therewith, Judge Makasiar
at the outset that "he had never asked, invited or requested any media
man whether print, broadcast, or telecast, to cover the Court’s
When a representative from Malacañang sought permission to
the proceedings, he granted the request on the condition "that only the
usual video footages would be taken of the proceedings for news
turned out that the entire proceedings was telecast live to the public.
Makasiar remarked that he "was not aware of any law, rule of court, or
Supreme Court decision, guideline or declared policy, vis-à-vis,
the live TV and radio coverage of court trials." However, Sections 4, 7
and 14 (2) of the Bill of Rights (Article III) of the 1987 Constitution
guarantee the freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press; the
of the people to information on matters of public concern; and the
of the accused to public trial, respectively. The implied suggestion of
Congressman Borjal to ban live TV and radio coverage of court trials
be offensive to these constitutional freedoms and rights."
He further observed
that "the justice system in the Philippines cannot be compared with
of the United States which adopts the jury system. Members of the jury
are laymen, some of whom with low education, and therefore easily
by emotion, sentiments, comments of other people, and other human
In the Philippines, justice is administered by judges who are learned
the law of evidence, and are constitutionally mandated to state clearly
and distinctly the facts and the law on which their pronouncements and
judgment are based."
To stress his point,
Judge Makasiar cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case,
Newspaper, Inc. et al. vs. Virginia, et al"
which, among others, stated that "a trial courtroom is a public place
the people and the representatives of media, generally, have a right to
be present, and where their presence has been historically thought to
the integrity and the quality of what takes place."
"The response to
the letter of Congressman Borjal should not be to strictly prohibit
TV and radio coverage of judicial proceedings but to prescribe rules
guidelines for electronics media coverage of court trials," thus
Judge Makasiar. He further suggested that an ad hoc committee
formed to draft the necessary rules and guidelines on this matter for
and consideration of the Supreme Court En Banc.
The propriety of
granting or denying permission to the media to broadcast, record, or
court proceedings involves weighing the constitutional guarantees of
of the press,
the right of the public to information
the right to public trial,
on the one hand, and on the other hand, the due process rights of the
and the inherent and constitutional power of the courts to control
proceedings in order to permit the fair and impartial administration of
Collaterally, it also raises issues in the nature of media,
television and its role in society, and of the impact of new
The records of the
Constitutional Commission are bereft of discussion regarding the
of cameras in the courtroom. Similarly, Philippine courts have not had
the opportunity to rule on the questions squarely.
While we take notice
of the September 1990 report
the United States Judicial Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in
Courtroom, still the current rule obtaining in the Federal Courts of
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
broadcasting of such proceedings from the courtroom. A trial of any
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
the court of the dignity which pertains to it and departs from the
and serious quest for truth for which our judicial proceedings are
Courts do not discriminate
against radio and television media by forbidding the broadcasting or
of a trial while permitting the newspaper reporter access to the
since a television or news reporter has the same privilege, as the news
reporter is not permitted to bring his typewriter or printing press
In Estes vs. Texas,
the United States Supreme Court held that television coverage of
proceedings involves an inherent denial of the due process rights of a
criminal defendant. Voting 5-4, the Court through Mr. Justice Clark,
four (4) areas of potential prejudice which might arise from the impact
of the cameras on the jury, witnesses, the trial judge and the
The decision in part pertinently stated:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
has established the prejudicial effect of telecasting on witnesses.
might be frightened, play to the camera, or become nervous. They are
to extraordinary out-of-court influences which might affect their
Also, telecasting not only increases the trial judge’s responsibility
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
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 f his defense.
is a powerful weapon which intentionally or inadvertently can destroy
accused and his case in the eyes of the public."
press have no special standing to apply for a writ of mandate to compel
a court to permit them to attend a trial, since, within the courtroom,
a reporter’s constitutional rights are no greater than those of any
member of the public.
Massive intrusion of representatives of the news media into the trial
can also alter or destroy the constitutionally necessary judicial
and decorum that the requirements impartiality imposed by due process
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
prejudice it poses to the defendant’s right to due process as well as
the fair and orderly administration of justice and considering further
that the freedom of the press and the right of the people to
may be served and satisfied by less distracting, degrading and
means, live radio and television coverage of court proceedings shall
be allowed. Video footages of court hearings for news purposes shall be
restricted and limited to shots of the courtroom, the judicial
the parties and their counsel taken prior to the commencement of
proceedings. No video shots or photographs shall be permitted during
ACCORDINGLY, in order
to protect the parties’ right to due process, to prevent the
of the participants in the proceedings and in the last analysis, to
miscarriage of justice, the Court resolved to prohibit live radio and
coverage of court proceedings. Video footages of court hearings for
purposes shall be limited and restricted as above indicated."
J., is on leave.
Clerk of Court
Page 1, Comment.
Page 2, Ibid.
Page 3, Ibid.
Page 5, Ibid.
448 U.S. 555, July 2, 1980
Pages. 6-7, Ibid.
Section 4, Article III, 1987 Constitution
Section 7, Art. III, Ibid.
Section 14 (2). Article III, Ibid.
Section 14 (1), Article III, Ibid.
Section 5, par. 5, Article VIII, Ibid.
The United States Judicial Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras
existing ban on cameras in the courtroom be stricken from the Code of
for United States Judges (Canon 3A  and henceforth policy on the
be included in the Guides to Judiciary Policies and Procedures;
policy statement be adopted expanding the permissible use of cameras
other electronic means to include ceremonial proceedings, for
of the record, for security purposes, and for other purposes of
75 Am Jur 2d p. 156.
381 U.S. 532.
Oxnard Publishing Co. vs. Superior Court of Ventura County (Cal
App) 68 Cal Rptr 83, hear gr by Sup Ct. app.
Hilliard vs. Arizona
362 F2d 908.
Seymour vs. United States (cA5 Tex) 373 F2d 629.