News on pending case broke sub judice rule

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09:38 PM August 3rd, 2011

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August 3rd, 2011 09:38 PM

We write on behalf of our clients, the petitioners in the case titled “Mapfre Insular Insurance Corporation, et al. v. Judge Ruben Galvez, et al.” (CA-GR SP No. 119760) now pending before the Court of Appeals, regarding the news article written by Marlon Ramos titled “Batangas firm assails CA insurance claim rule.” (Inquirer, 7/20/11)

The issues and arguments discussed by Nonnatus Chua in the article have already been raised in the comment and motions filed by the Steel Corporation of the Philippines with the Court of Appeals. Hence, Chua’s interview, which was unnecessary and unwarranted under the circumstances, violated the sub judice rule and was therefore made in contempt of court.

It bears stressing that the court, in a pending litigation, must be shielded from embarrassment or influence in its all-important duty of deciding the case (In re Almacen, No. L-27654, Feb. 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 562). Any publication about a pending suit, reflecting upon the court, the parties, the officers of the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to the suit, or tending to influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is punishable (In re Kelly, 35 Phil. 944; see also Justice Arturo Brion’s Supplemental Opinion in Lejano v. People of the Philippines, GR Nos.  176389 and 176864, Dec. 14, 2010).

While the sub judice rule may be considered as a curtailment of the right to free speech, it cannot be denied that it is necessary to ensure the fair and orderly administration of justice. Therefore, we implore the editors of the Inquirer, in the name of responsible journalism, to respect the rule of law and to refrain from publishing stories that tend to influence the court in deciding cases which are pending before it.

—JEROME L. DE GUZMAN and

RALPH DAVID D. SO,

De Guzman San Diego Mejia & Hernandez Law Offices (GSMH Law), The Penthouse,

Paragon Tower, 531 A. Flores St.,

Ermita, Manila 1000

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