Bishop warns: Live coverage of Arroyo trial to politicize legal proceeding
MANILA, Philippines—Catholic church leaders are already split over a proposal to provide live television coverage of the election sabotage trial of former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said he was not in favor of a call to allow live media coverage of Arroyo’s impending trial saying that the court proceedings would end up being “politicized.”
“Live coverage is not needed,” said Medroso over Church-run Radio Veritas on Monday.
“The court proceedings should be in court so that the real issues are discussed there and are tried well,” said Medroso, also chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Canon Law.
A live media coverage of the trial would have many considerations, said the bishop. “You have to consider the viewers… the audience and this might get in the way of the proceedings,” he added.
“The real proceedings must be done in court and what is unfortunate about it is that it can be used as a campaign for political purpose,” continued the bishop.
But Sr. Mary John Mananzan, chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, believed otherwise.
Also over Radio Veritas, Mananzan said she favored the proposal to broadcast the trial live to allow the public to exercise their right to know Mrs. Arroyo’s alleged involvement in the during 2007 elections cheating.
She said that “if it can be done to ex-President Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder in 2007, why not to Arroyo.”
Mananzan was referring to the live media coverage of Estrada’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Although journalists were allowed to observe the Sandiganbayan trial, they were barred from using video cameras and recorders during the proceedings.
While she sympathized with Arroyo for suffering a bone disease, Mananzan maintained that the former president must face the electoral sabotage case filed against her on Friday.
“It doesn’t mean that since she is sick, she would no longer be tried to prove whether she’s guilty or not of the charges… that has to go through with all our sympathy and compassion for her health condition,” she said.
Some lawmakers, including Estrada’s son San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, have proposed live media coverage of the Arroyo trial to ensure transparency.