Manila court sets safety rules for promulgation on Ressa, writer cyberlibel case
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 has laid out its safety protocols for the promulgation of judgment on the cyberlibel case filed against Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. on June 15.
The guidelines to be implemented are in accordance with regulations from the Inter-Agency Task Force on (IATF) Emerging Infectious Diseases as well as from the Manila City government and the Supreme Court, Unis Bautista, Branch Clerk of Court, said in a notice signed on Thursday but released to the media on Friday.
According to Bautista, promulgation attendees will be required to wear face masks or face shields, and that disinfection on the foot mat and spraying of alcohol or disinfectant will also be observed upon entry to the court premises.
“Any person with a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius will be refused entry into the court premises,” the notice read.
The promulgation, originally scheduled on April 3 but was postponed due to the community quarantine, will start at 8:30 a.m.
Parties and counsels will also be asked to log-in their names and contact details upon entry for possible contact tracing, according to Bautista.
For the prosecution, the public prosecutor, a representative from each of the three law firms on the part of the private prosecutor and the private complainant will be allowed in the courtroom.
For the defense, a defense counsel and the two accused are allowed inside the premises.
Meanwhile, only three media representatives will be permitted inside the courtroom so that physical distancing can be observed with the limited space.
“No camera or any recording device will be allowed inside the court premises. The rest shall stay outside the building as it is also prohibited by the LGU of Manila to mass [gather] along the corridors and hallways,” the notice read.
Only authorized persons, court personnel, and local government unit employees will be allowed at or near the venue of the court proceedings, which shall include the hallways and corridors leading to the courtroom.
“Rest assured that the court is implementing measures to disinfect its premises on a regular basis. Social distancing measures are likewise observed in the court premises at all times,” said Bautista.
The case set to be promulgated stemmed from the complaint of Filipino-Chinese businessman Wilfredo Keng about a Rappler article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman,” which was written by Santos in May 2012.
The article claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a Chevrolet Suburban that was found to be registered to Keng. Santos also said he secured an intelligence report prepared in 2002 stating that Keng had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in illegal activities, namely “human trafficking and drug smuggling.”
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