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News report put Acosta in bad light

/ 09:33 PM January 05, 2012

The Dec. 28, 2011 issue of the Inquirer carried a news item, titled “Aquino adviser fights suspension on graft charges,” on Nereus Acosta’s preventive suspension that was ordered by the Sandiganbayan, as the Office of the Special Prosecutor had asked the court. The report, because of the big, bold headline which read “Suspend me, suspend P-Noy,” unfairly put Acosta in a bad light before the public. Apart from the unnecessary play-up of the relationship between Acosta and President Aquino, the former was made to appear to be above the law by virtue of this relation and his position in the government.

Furthermore, although at the start, the article referred to and quoted some portions of Acosta’s “opposition filed with the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division,” the rest of the article appeared as if it was based on a personal interview with him. This is utterly misleading, even totally malicious, as Inquirer reporter Leila Salaverria did not conduct any such interview with Acosta and neither did she first solicit his personal opinion on the matter.

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The legal arguments of Acosta were for the Sandiganbayan’s consideration, not for public consumption. It is hardly possible to litigate a case involving questions of law and facts in the press. “[I]t is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts and juries, in the decision of issues of fact and law, should be immune from every extraneous influence.” But the article, which commented on and disclosed judicial proceedings, exposed the case to a trial by publicity and exerted undue influence on the court.

Finally, it bears noting that “[t]he sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. A violation of the sub judice rule may render one liable for indirect contempt under Sec. 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.”

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Therefore, the Inquirer would do well to avoid from publicly commenting on the above-mentioned case.

—AQUILINO C. SALVADOR JR.,

counsel for Presidential

Adviser on Environmental

Protection J.R. Nereus Acosta

I take exception to the claim that my story was misleading or malicious.

1. The fact is that the opposition Acosta filed in court was referred to and quoted in the second and sixth paragraphs of my story. And it was clearly the basis of the story.

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2. The opposition Acosta filed is a public document, as was the motion filed by the prosecution to have him suspended. I only reported Acosta’s arguments in his opposition.

3. It was Acosta himself, in his opposition, who brought up his

relationship with the President.

4. Nowhere in the story was it said that it was based on an interview with Acosta.

5. Nowhere in the story did I comment on the merits of the case.

—LEILA B. SALAVERRIA,

reporter, Inquirer

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TAGS: graft, letters, Media, nereus Acosta, Sandiganbayan
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