Gov’t lawyers oppose CNN PH’s request to interview Revilla, Estrada, Enrile
Government lawyers opposed the request of CNN Philippines to interview Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile who are all detained for plunder over their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In three separate comment oppositions filed in the different divisions hearing the cases, the prosecutors said the accused are prevented under subjudice rule from making comments that may affect the judicial proceedings, influence the court, or obstruct the administration of justice.
“(In) order to protect and maintain the integrity of the instant proceedings, there is a need to restrict publicity that would create undue pressure on this Honorable Court’s resolution of pending issues,” the comment said.
The prosecutors cited the calls to place Enrile under house arrest, saying an interview with Enrile may affect the court’s discretion on the matter.
While Senators, Congressmen and other individuals have called for Enrile’s house arrest, Enrile, however, has yet to file such a motion.
The CNN Philippines in its letter to the court said the interview would seek to ask the senators about their state of health and family matters.
“It is therefore not a stretch … to conclude that any public discussions on Enrile’s family and health issues would necessarily touch upon his current detention… Discussions on Enrile’s health and family issues might elicit public sympathy in support of various calls for him to be detained in his home,” the comment said.
“Even granting that the interview might not have a significant influence on the ultimate outcome of the trial, it will generate sufficient publicity that will substantially bear on this Honorable Court’s consideration of the house arrest,” it added.
The panel said while it respects the media as an institution and does not accuse the media of trying to sway the court’s opinion, the court may still be under pressure due to public opinion.
“While plaintiff maintains high fidelity to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, and accords the Philippine mass media with the highest respect, it must nonetheless stay true to its duty to this Honorable Court,” the comment said.
The prosecutors said the interview that would be conducted by host Pia Hontiveros is sure to tackle political issues surrounding the criminal cases and thus may politicize the judicial proceedings that the subjudice rule seeks to prevent.
The prosecutors said the court should be protected from “external interferences” and not be “burdened by public opinion.”
“The integrity of the proceedings must be protected from external interferences, including prejudicial or potentially prejudicial publicity,” the comment said.
Enrile, Estrada and Revilla are all charged with plunder and graft over the alleged scheme of pillaging their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks under the scheme of accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
The ailing 91-year-old Enrile is under detention at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital, while Revilla and Estrada are in the PNP Custodial Center.
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