by Robert Bolisay
When the Members Church of God, International (MCGI) decided to boycott the GMA Broadcasting Network, the public raised the question “why?” MCGI is more populary known as the Ang Dating Daan group on account of the long-running multi-awarded TV program of Bro. Eli Soriano. Incidentally, Bro. Eli is the respondent to the case that Case Unclosed of GMA 7 and 11 choose to discuss.
The ADD members are also Filipino citizens who have the constitutional right to boycott. There is not a single law violated.
It is an exercise of freedom in a democratic country. Nothing is wrong with that.
The ADD group which has chapters nationwide (and abroad) have decided not to tune in to their television on GMA Channel 7 totally. That includes Channel 11 which is also owned by the GMA Network.
They are simply expressing our grievance upon the re-airing of the episode Case Unclosed (CU) program in the said station. The group believes that the presentation was biased and unfair.
The CU episode tackles the rape case filed by a dismissed member of ADD for filthy living against the leader of the group, Bro. Eli. The case had been earlier dismissed for lack of evidence. It is again being heard in the court of law, as filed by a former Secretary of Justice.
It was first aired in 2009 and replayed recently this month, August 3, 2011.
The host (Arnold Clavio) in the episode interviewed the accuser and witnesses from the prosecution side.
They showed the accuser’s side only.
GMA-7 allowed it to be broadcast last 2009 and allowed it again recently, which is a clear violation of a rule of court on the cases that are presently being heard: the sub judice rule.
According to the Supreme Court decision on Nestle Philippines vs. Sanchez,
“The 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. The rationale for the rule adverted to is set out in Nestle Philippines v. Sanchez:”
The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 71 Sec. 3(d) says,
“(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice;”
McMillan Dictionary defines sub judice as “being considered by a judge or in a court and some details of it cannot be discussed in public.”
That certain rule is not difficult to understand with the guidance of a lawyer and by carefully reading the references. Case Unclosed of GMA-7 clearly violated this rule.
The episode even had re-enactments of the accuser’s side of the story!
Being a giant network, it is not fitting to think that GMA-7 is in the dark about certain rules of court that makes the episode unfair and biased to be aired and re-aired.
The “why?” question should have been directed to GMA-7 instead. Why did you broadcast the episode? Are you not aware of the rule of court on sub judice?
The TV Network tried to sound fair when they said that they tried to get the side of the respondent. They did not get anything, however, from the respondent.
Here is another “why?” question for GMA-7. Why would they still insist on an interview with the respondent? Didn’t they know they cannot discuss the case on the basis of sub judice?
In the Case Unclosed format, it is inevitable not to talk about the merits of the case once Bro. Eli grants an interview.
Of course, the respondent would mention some details of the case to defend himself. If not, what did you expect to talk about in the interview then?
What they have done is a trial by publicity. Without any information from the side of Bro. Eli, they still broadcast the episode for the second time.
The CU episode is very much biased. After watching, it can give clear conclusion to tele-viewers that the respondent is already guilty of the crime.
This public pre-judgment from what maybe the impact of the program is what the ADD group sees as needing to be corrected. It needs nothing less than boycotting the TV network.
The boycott protest of the group is in fact a soft one. They could even go out of the streets to rally against GMA-7. They are citizens of this democratic country and they have the constitutional right to peaceably assemble to express their grievances in accordance with Batas Pambansa Bilang 880, “The Public Assembly Act of 1985,” an act ensuring the free exercise by the people of their right peaceably to assemble and petition the government and for other purposes.
The group chose instead a more peaceful one: boycott at the most peaceful level devoid of public rallies.
It is a simple and peaceful protest form against GMA-7 and its sister station. No violent act is made. They simply deleted Channels 7 and 11 from their TV programs.
The case is still in the court of law. Let the respondent defend himself in the proper venue, and not on GMA-7 program. Together with its sister station, GMA-7 has just prejudged Brother Eli in the public eye. #