MANILAThe Supreme Court (SC) allowed news coverage of Senator Leila de Lima's trials for alleged drug trading activities before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The High Court, however, clarified that recording devices would not be allowed inside the courtroom during the hearings and reporters would only be allowed to take notes.
Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo earlier prohibited the media from covering the hearings, citing the limited space in her courtroom and fairness to all media outfits as reasons for rejecting the request of online news outfit Rappler to cover the proceedings.
In granting Rappler's request, the SC magistrates said they approved the recommendation of Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and ordered the Muntinlupa court to allow reporters inside the courtroom during hearings.
The SC authorized the RTC clerk of court "to select, for each hearing of the drug cases against Senator de Lima, two to four media institutions to access the courtroom, which may be limited to one reporter from each of such chosen media institutions."
The trial court will pick one representative each from television, radio, print and online media "and give all media institutions that have requested for access into the courtroom a chance to attend the said hearings sequentially."
Marquez, in his recommendation, said the media should be allowed to cover inside the courtroom because de Lima's case is a "matter of public concern."
The SC official added that "such hearings, which involve the purported drug trading activities of no less than a senator of the country, pertain to matters of public concern for which Filipino citizens have the right to information."
De Lima is facing charges of conspiracy to commit drug trading before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206, as well as in Branch 205. She is also standing trial for disobedience to summons before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 34.
De Lima, who has been detained at the PNP custodial center in Camp Crame since Feb. 2017, was arraigned in the drug cases last July and August before the two Muntinlupa courts.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, lauded the High Court's ruling.
"We welcome it. So that people wil know the truth," Guevarra said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency