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‘Sub-judice’ rule on court cases no longer exists?

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies…” (Proverbs 14:5, the Holy Bible).

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MIXED REACTIONS FLOOD SOCIAL MEDIA ON DE LIMA ARREST: Many mixed reactions are flooding media and social networking sites in the aftermath of the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila De Lima Friday, February 24, 2017, in connection with charges that she participated in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City at a time when she was justice secretary.

One group of reaction says De Lima is the subject of a ruthless persecution ordered by President Duterte no less, as a retaliatory action for her critical opposition to the President’s fierce, violent, and deadly campaign against illegal drugs.

Another typical reaction is that, De Lima deserves to be charged, arrested, and detained, even if she is a sitting lawmaker, since the crimes with which she had been charged are grave and truly heinous in nature. Which of these reactions are correct? Which of them are wrong?

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FILIPINOS ARE NOW SPEAKING MORE FREELY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA:I, of course, wouldn’t dare to judge which reaction is correct, and which is wrong. As far as I am concerned, it is not the correctness or inappropriateness of the reactions that is material and important.

What is important in all these is that, given the easy and almost costless access nowadays by a big number of our citizenry to social networking sites, Filipinos are now learning to voice out their feelings on important issues facing the country and its leaders, almost instantly as events are happening around them.

Now, more than ever, the Constitutional right to free speech is finding fulfillment among our people. And this is truly encouraging, and is generating hope in me that with this new-found strength of the citizens to speak out on almost all issues in an uninhibited manner, officials who would otherwise be committing crimes under the thought that their dastardly deeds would be kept hidden would now think twice or thrice before indulging in any criminal act.

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“SUB-JUDICE” RULE ON PENDING CASES NO LONGER EXISTS?On the other hand, there is something odd that struck me in the case of De Lima, and it is the propensity of lawyers of the contending parties to be talking to media about the merits and demerits of her cases. It is as if there is no such thing as the “sub judice” rule—which means that when a case is already being tried by the courts, parties and lawyers are banned from talking about it.

The ban is not only for the benefit of the accused, but of the State and the complainant as well, and is aimed at avoiding a trial by publicity. It is in fact an attempt to uphold the majesty of the courts, to enable them to decide any factual or legal issue that had been laid before them on the basis merely of the evidence, and not on any public hysteria or reaction.

Listening to the lawyers in the case of De Lima gave me the impression that there is no  more sub judice rule. I guess the Supreme Court would have to step into this controversy, and bar all further discussion of the senator’s cases—or any other case for that matter that is already pending in the court—henceforth.

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PLEASE LISTEN: ”Ang Tanging Daan” (The Sole Way): a Bible Exposition and prayer session online, could now be heard 24/7 (24 hours a day), in the Philippines and the world at  www.facebook.com/angtangingdaan.  Phone: 0917 984 24 68, 0918 574 0193, 0977 805 9058. Email: batasmauricio@yahoo.com.  (By Atty. Batas Mauricio)

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