Digest Facts: -Civil Service Commission denied Valentin Legaspi’s (petitioner) request for information on the civil service eligibilities of 2 people employed as sanitarians, Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, in the Health Department in Cebu. -Petitioner claims that his right to information is guaranteed by the Constitution prays for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of mandamus to compel the respondent Commission to disclose said information. the Solicitor General challenges the petitioner’s standing to sue upon the ground that the latter does not possess any legal right to be informed of the civil services eligibilities of the government employees concerned. -SolGen further argues that there is no ministerial duty on the part of the Commission to furnish the petitioner with the information he seeks. Issue: WON the petitioner has legal to access government records to validate the civil service eligibilities of the Health Department employees. Held:
Civil Service Commission is ordered to open its register of eligible for the position of sanitarian, and to confirm or deny, the civil service eligibility of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, for said position in the Health Department of Cebu City, as requested by the petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi. Ratio: The petitioner, being a citizen who, as such is clothed with personality to seek redress for the alleged obstruction of the exercise of the public right. We find no cogent reason to deny his standing to bring the present suit. In recognizing the people’s right to be informed, both the 1973 Constitution and the New Charter expressly mandate the duty of the State and its agents to afford access to official records, documents, papers and in addition, government research data used as basis for policy development, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law – While the manner of examining public records may be subject to reasonable regulation by the government agency in custody thereof, the duty to disclose the information of public concern, and to afford access to public records cannot be discretionary on the part of said agencies. Certainly, its performance cannot be made contingent upon the discretion of such agencies. Otherwise, the enjoyment of the constitutional right may be rendered nugatory by any whimsical exercise of agency discretion. – The constitutional duty, not being discretionary, its performance may be compelled by a writ of mandamus in a proper case. – But the constitutional guarantee to information on matters of public concern is not absolute. It does not open every door to any and all information. Under the Constitution, access to official records, papers, etc. are “subject to limitations as may be provided by law” (Art. III, Sec. 7, second sentence). The law may therefore exempt certain types of information from public scrutiny, such as those affecting national security. – It follows that, in every case, the availability of access to a particular public record must be circumscribed by the nature of the information sought, i. e. , (a) being of public concern or one that involves public interest, and, (b) not being exempted by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee. ase of denial of access, the government agency has the burden of showing that the information requested is not of public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that the same has been exempted by law from the operation of the guarantee. LEGASPI VS. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (May 29, 1987 ) Digest Facts: – The respondent CSC had denied petitioner Valentin Legaspi’s request for information on the civil service eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas who were employed as sanitarians in the Health Department of Cebu City.
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Sibonghanoy and Agas had allegedly represented themselves as civil service eligible who passed the civil service examinations for sanitarians. Claiming that his right to be informed of the eligibilities of Sibonghanoy and Agas is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that he has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to acquire the information, petitioner prays for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of mandamus to compel the respondent CSC to disclose said information.
The respondent CSC takes issue on the personality of the petitioner to bring the suit. It is asserted that the petition is bereft of any allegation of Legaspi’s actual interest in the civil service eligibilities of Sibonghanoy and Agas. Issue: Whether or not the petitioner has legal standing to bring the suit Held: – The petitioner has firmly anchored his case upon the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, which, by its very nature, is a public right. It has been held in the case of Tanada vs. Tuvera, 136 SCRA 27, that when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest, and the person at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws. It becomes apparent that when a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of the general public which possesses the right. – The petitioner, being a citizen who as such, is clothed with personality to seek redress for the alleged obstruction of the exercise of the public right. VALMONTE VS BALMONTE170 SCRA 256
Facts: – Ricardo Valmonte wrote Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on 4 June 1986, requesting to be “furnished with the list of names of the opposition members of (the) BatasangPambansa who were able to secure a clean loan of P2 million each on guaranty (sic)of Mrs. Imelda Marcos” and also to “be furnished with the certified true copies of the documents evidencing their loan. Expenses in connection herewith shall be borne by” Valmonte, et. al. Due to serious legal implications, President ;amp; General Manager Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. referred the letter to the Deputy General Counsel of the GSIS, Meynardo A. Tiro. Tiro replied that it is his opinion “that a confidential relationship exists between the GSIS and all those who borrow from it, whoever they may be; that the GSIS has a duty to its customers to preserve this confidentiality; and that it would not be proper for the GSIS to breach this confidentiality unless so ordered by the courts. – On 20 June 1986, apparently not having yet received the reply of the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) Deputy General Counsel, Valmonte wrote Belmonte another letter, saying that for failure to receive a reply “(W)e are now considering ourselves free to do whatever action necessary within the premises to pursue our desired objective in pursuance of public interest. – On 26 June 1986, Ricardo Valmonte, Oswaldo Carbonell, Doy Del Castillo, Rolando Bartolome, LeoObligar, Jun Gutierrez, Reynaldo Bagatsing, Jun “Ninoy” Alba, Percy Lapid, Rommel Corro, and Rolando Fadul filed a special civil action for mandamus with preliminary injunction invoke their right to information and pray that Belmonte be directed: (a) to furnish Valmonte, et. al. he list of the names of the Batasang Pambansa membersbelonging to the UNIDO and PDP Laban who were able to secure clean loans immediately before the February 7 election thru the intercession/marginal note of the then First Lady Imelda Marcos; and/or (b) to furnish petitioners with certified true copies of the documents evidencing their respective loans; and/or (c) to allow petitioners access to the public records for the subject information. Issue: Whether Valmonte, et. l. are entitled as citizens and taxpayers to inquire upon GSIS records on behest loans given by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos toBatasang Pambansa members belonging to the UNIDO and PDP-Laban politicalparties. Held: – The GSIS is a trustee of contributions from the government and its employees and the administrator of various insurance programs for the benefit of the latter. – Undeniably, its funds assume a public character. – More particularly, Secs. (b) and 46of PD 1146, as amended (the Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977),provide for annual appropriations to pay the contributions, premiums, interest and other amounts payable to GSIS by the government, as employer, as well as the obligations which the Republic of the Philippines assumes or guarantees to pay. Considering the nature of its funds, the GSIS is expected to manage its resources with utmost prudence and in strict compliance with the pertinent laws or rules and regulations. Thus, one of the reasons that prompted the revision of the old GSIS law(CA 186, as amended) was the necessity “to preserve at all times the actuarial solvency of the funds administered by the Systems [Second Whereas Clause, PD1146. ] Consequently, as Feliciano Belmonte himself admits, the GSIS “is not supposed to grant ‘clean loans. ‘” It is therefore the legitimate concern of the public to ensure that these funds are managed properly with the end in view of maximizing the benefits that accrue to the insured government employees. Moreover, the supposed borrowers were Members of the defunct Batasang Pambansa who themselves appropriated funds for the GSIS and were therefore expected to be the first to see to it that the GSIS performed its tasks with the greatest degree of fidelity and that all its transactions were above board. In sum, the public nature of the loanable funds of the GSIS and the public office held by the alleged borrowers make the information sought clearly a matter of public interest and concern. – Still, Belmonte maintains that a confidential relationship exists between the GSIS and its borrowers. It is argued that a policy of confidentiality restricts the indiscriminate dissemination of information. – Yet, Belmonte has failed to cite any law granting the GSIS the privilege of confidentiality as regards the documents subject of the present petition. – His position is apparently based merely on considerations of policy. – The judiciary does not settle policy issues. The Court can only declare what the law is, and not what the law should be. – Under our system of government, policy issues are within the domain of the political branches of the government, and of the people themselves as the epository of all State power. CASE DIGEST ON TANADA v. TUVERA [136 SCRA 27 (1985)] Nature: Petition to review the decision of the Executive Assistant to the President. Facts: – Invoking the people’s right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 constitution, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette, of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders. The respondents would have this case dismissed on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality to bring this petition. – Petitioners maintain that since the subject of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel public duty, they need not show any specific interest. – Respondents further contend that publication in the OG is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. Issue:
WON publication in the Official Gazatte is an indispensable requirement for the effectivity of the PDs, LOIs, general orders, EOs, etc. where laws themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. Held: – Yes. It is the people’s right to be informed on matters of public concern & corollarily access to official records, & to documents & papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizens subject to such limitation as may be provided by law (§6 AIV, 1973 Constitution). Laws, to be valid & enforceable, must be published in the OG or otherwise effectively promulgated. The fact that a PD or LOI states its date of effectivity does not preclude their publication in the OG as they constitute important legislative acts. The publication of presidential issuances “of public nature” or “of general applicability” is a requirement of due process. Before a person may be bound by law, he must first be officially informed of its contents. Judgment: Respondents ordered to publish in Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances of general application, and unless so published shall have no binding force and effect. Impt Point: It illustrates how decrees & issuances issued by one man—Marcos—are in fact laws of gen’l application & provide for penalties. The constitution afforded Marcos both executive & legislative powers. – The generality of law (CC A14) will never work w/o constructive notice. – The ruling of this case provides the publication constitutes the necessary constructive notice & is thus the cure for ignorance as an excuse. Ignorance will not even mitigate the crime. FACTS: – Petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letters of implementation and administrative orders. – Respondents, through the Solicitor General would have this case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition.
The view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that the petitioner are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in question. – Respondent further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of the law where the law themselves provides for their own effectivity dates. ISSUES: Whether the presidential decrees in question which contain special provisions as to the date they are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity?
RULING: Publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date, for then the date of publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the 15th day following its publication, but not when the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect. Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity.
The publication of all presidential issuances of a public nature or of general applicability is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose burdens on the people, such as tax revenue measures, fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concern.
The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general application, which have not been published, shall have no force and effect. FACTS: Petitioners seek a writ of mandamus in compelling respondent public officials to publish and/ or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letter of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders. The general rule in seeking writ of mandamus is that it “would be granted to private individual only in those cases where he has some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some particular right to be protected, independent of that which he holds with the public at large,” and “it is for the public officers exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved”. The legal capacity of a private citizen was recognized by court to make the said petition for the reason that the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land. ISSUE:
Whether publication in the Official Gazette is still required considering the clause in Article 2 “unless otherwise provided”. HELD: “Unless it is otherwise provided” refers to the date of effectivity and not with the publication requirement which cannot be omitted as public needs to be notified for the law to become effective. The necessity for the publication in the Official Gazette of all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, was affirmed by the court on April 24, 1985. This is necessary to provide the general public adequate notice of the various laws which regulate actions and conduct as citizens.
Without this, there would be no basis for Art 3 of the Civil Code “Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith”. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect. CHAVEZ vs PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT Facts: -Petitioner Francisco I Chavez (in his capacity as taxpayer, citizen and a former government official initiated this original action seeking 1) to prohibit and “enjoin respondents [PCGG and its chairman] from privately entering into, perfecting and/or executing any agreement with the heirs of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos . . . relating to and concerning the properties and assets of Ferdinand Marcos located in the Philippines and/or abroad — including the so-called Marcos gold hoard”; and (2) to “compel respondent[s] to make public all negotiations and agreement, be they ongoing or perfected, and all documents related to or relating to such negotiations and agreement between the PCGG and the Marcos heirs. -Chavez is the same person initiated the prosecution of the Marcoses and their cronies who committed unmitigated plunder of the public treasury and the systematic subjugation of the country’s economy; he says that what impelled him to bring this action were several news reports 2 bannered in a number of broadsheets sometime in September 1997. – These news items referred to (1) the alleged discovery of billions of dollars of Marcos assets deposited in various coded accounts in Swiss banks; and (2) the reported execution of a compromise, between the government (through PCGG) and the Marcos heirs, on how to split or share these assets. PETITIONER DEMANDS that respondents make public any and all negotiations and agreements pertaining to PCGG’s task of recovering the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. – He claims that any compromise on the alleged billions of ill-gotten wealth involves an issue of “paramount public interest,” since it has a “debilitating effect on the country’s economy” that would be greatly prejudicial to the national interest of the Filipino people. – Hence, the people in general have a right to know the transactions or deals being contrived and effected by the government RESPONDENT ANSWERS that they do not deny forging a compromise agreement with the Marcos heirs. – They claim, though, that petitioner’s action is premature, because there is no showing that he has asked the PCGG to disclose the negotiations and the Agreements. – And even if he has, PCGG may not yet be compelled to make any disclosure, since the proposed terms and conditions of the Agreements have not become effective and binding – PETITIONER INVOKES Sec. 7 [Article III].
The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. – Sec. 28 [Article II]. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest RESPONDENT ANSWERS that the above constitutional provisions refer to completed and operative official acts, not to those still being considered. Issue: Whether or not the Court could require the PCGG to disclose to the public the details of any agreement, perfected or not, with the Marcoses. Ruling: “WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The General and Supplemental Agreement dated December 28, 1993, which PCGG and the Marcos heirs entered into are hereby declared NULL AND VOID for being contrary to law and the Constitution.
Respondent PCGG, its officers and all government functionaries and officials who are or may be directly to indirectly involved in the recovery of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their associates are DIRECTED to disclose to the public the terms of any proposed compromise settlement, as well as the final agreement, relating to such alleged ill-gotten wealth, in accordance with the discussions embodied in this Decision.
No pronouncement as to cost. ” RD:- – The “information” and the “transactions” referred to in the subject provisions of the Constitution have as yet no defined scope and extent. – There are no specific laws prescribing the exact limitations within which the right may be exercised or the correlative state duty may be obliged. However, the following are some of the recognized restrictions: (1) national security matters and intelligence information- there is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other national security matters. 24 But where there isno need to protect such state secrets, the privilege may not be invoked to withholddocuments and other information, 25 provided that they are examined “in strictconfidence” and given “scrupulous protection. (2) trade secrets and banking transactions-trade or industrial secrets (pursuant to the Intellectual Property Code 27 and other relatedlaws) as well as banking transactions (pursuant to the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act 28)are also exempted from compulsory disclosure (3) criminal matters- Also excluded are classified law enforcement matters, such as those relating to theapprehension, the prosecution and the detention of criminals, which courts neither maynor inquire into prior to such arrest, detention and prosecution.
Efforts at effective lawenforcement would be seriously jeopardized by free public access to, for example, policeinformation regarding rescue operations, the whereabouts of fugitives, or leads on covertcriminal activities. (4) other confidential information. – The Ethical Standards Act 31 further prohibits public officials and employees from usingor divulging “confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public. Other acknowledged limitations toinformation access include diplomatic correspondence, closed door Cabinet meetings andexecutive sessions of either house of Congress, as well as the internal deliberations of theSupreme Court. – In Valmonte v. Belmonte Jr. , the Court emphasized that the information sought must be”matters of public concern,” access to which may be limited by law. Similarly, the state policy of full public disclosure extends only to “transactions involving public interest” and may also be”subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law. – As to the meanings of the terms “public interest” and “public concern,” the Court, in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, elucidated: “In determining whether or not a particular information isof public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. “ “Public concern” like “publicinterest” is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjectswhich the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simplybecause such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen.
In the final analysis, itis for the courts to determine on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interestor importance, as it relates to or affects the public. ”-As to whether or not the above cited constitutional provisions guarantee access to informationregarding ongoing negotiations or proposals prior to the final agreement, this same clarificationwas sought and clearly addressed by the constitutional commissioners during their deliberations, MR. SUAREZ.
And when we say “transactions” which should be distinguished from contracts,agreements, or treaties or whatever, does the Gentleman refer to the steps leading to theconsummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself? MR. OPLE. The “transactions” used here, I suppose, is generic and, therefore, it can cover bothsteps leading to a contract, and already a consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer. MR. SUAREZ. This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of thetransaction? MR. OPLE. Yes, subject to reasonable safeguards on the national interest. Considering the intent of the Constitution, the Court believes that it is incumbent upon thePCGG and its officers, as well as other government representatives, to disclose sufficient publicinformation on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the ostensible ownersand holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositionsof the government, not necessarily to intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations orcommunications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of beingformulated or are in the “exploratory” stage.
There is a need, of course, to observe the samerestrictions on disclosure of information in general, as discussed above— such as on mattersinvolving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations, intelligence and other classifiedinformation Facts: Petitioner, instituted a case against public respondent to make public any negotiations and/or agreements pertaining to the latter’s task of recovering the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. The respondents argued that the action was premature since he has not shown that he had asked the respondents to disclose the negotiations and agreements before filing the case.
Issue: Does the petitioner have the personality or legal standing to file the instant petition? Held: The instant petition is anchored on the right of the people to information and access to government records, documents and papers- a right guaranteed under section 7, article III of the Philippine Constitution. The petitioner a former solicitor general, is a Filipino citizen, and because of the satisfaction of the two basic requisites laid down by decisional law to sustain petitioner’s standing i. e (1) ENFORCEMENT OF A LEGAL RIGHT (2) ESPOUSED BY A FILIPINO CITIZEN e rule, that the petition at bar be allowed. Re: Request For Live Tv Of Trial Of Joseph Estrada Facts: The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) sent a letter requesting the Court to allow live media coverage of the anticipated trial of the plunder and other criminal cases filed against former President Joseph E. Estrada before the Sandiganbayan in order “to assure the public of full transparency in the proceedings of an unprecedented case in our history. ” The request was seconded by Mr. Cesar N. Sarino and, still later, by Senator Renato Cayetano and Attorney Ricardo Romulo. Issue:
Whether or Not live media coverage of the trial of the plunder and other criminal cases filed against former President Joseph E. Estrada should be permitted by the court. Held: The propriety of granting or denying the instant petition involve the weighing out of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and the right to public information, on the other hand, along with the constitutional power of a court to control its proceedings in ensuring a fair and impartial trial. When these rights race against one another, jurisprudence tells us that the right of the accused must be preferred to win.
Due process guarantees the accused a presumption of innocence until the contrary is proved in a trial that is not lifted about its individual settings nor made an object of public’s attention and where the conclusions reached are induced not by any outside force or influence but only be evidence and argument given in open court, where fitting dignity and calm ambiance is demanded. An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that belongs to him, more than anyone else, where his life or liberty can be held critically in balance.
A public trial aims to ensure that he is fairly dealt with and would not be unjustly condemned and that his rights are not compromised in secret conclaves of long ago. A public trial is not synonymous with publicized trial, it only implies that the court doors must be open to those who wish to come, sit in the available seats, conduct themselves with decorum and observe the trial process. The courts recognize the constitutionally embodied freedom of the press and the right to public information.
It also approves of media’s exalted power to provide the most accurate and comprehensive means of conveying the proceedings to the public. Nevertheless, within the courthouse, the overriding consideration is still the paramount right of the accused to due process which must never be allowed to suffer diminution in its constitutional proportions. R E S O L U T I O N MENDOZA, J. : This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners’ request for permission to televise and broadcast live the trial of former President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan.
The motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as one of the petitioners, who argues that there is really no conflict between the right of the people to public information and the freedom of the press, on the one hand, and, on the other, the right of the accused to a fair trial; that if there is a clash between these rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right of the people and the press because the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to information; and that live media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any party to use the courts as instruments for the pursuit of selfish interests.
On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his objection to the live TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its allowance will violate the sub judice rule and that, based on his experience with the impeachment trial, live media coverage will only pave the way for so-called “expert commentary” which can trigger massive demonstrations aimed at pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or the other. Mr. Estrada contends that the right of the people to information may be served through other means less distracting, degrading, and prejudicial than live TV and radio coverage.
The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important issue and, after due deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way modify its decision prohibiting live or real time broadcast by radio or television of the trial of the former president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6) of its members, the Court denies the motion for reconsideration of the Secretary of Justice. In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, y the vote of eight (8) Justices, has resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the trial for documentary purposes. Seven (7) Justices vote against the audio-visual recording of the trial. What follows is the opinion of the majority. Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former President Estrada and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the Court believes that there should be an audio-visual recording of the proceedings. The recordings will not be for live or real time broadcast but for documentary purposes.
Only later will they be available for public showing, after the Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision in every case to which the recording pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office for historical preservation and exhibition pursuant to law.  For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be inconspicuously installed in the courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be regulated, consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings.
The trial shall be recorded in its entirety, except such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held public pursuant to Rule 119, §21 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be included in the documentary except annotations which may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are depicted. The audio-visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may be. There are several reasons for such televised recording.
First, the hearings are of historic significance. They are an affirmation of our commitment to the rule that “the King is under no man, but he is under God and the law. ” (Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege. ) Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who have a fundamental right to know how their government is conducted. This right can be enhanced by audio-visual presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is essential for the education and civic training of the people.
Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for documentary purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the essence of the proceedings in a way that the cold print cannot quite do because it cannot capture the sights and sounds of events. They will be primarily for the use of appellate courts in the event a review of the proceedings, rulings, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes necessary. The accuracy of the transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the trial can be checked by reference to the tapes.
On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concerns that those taking part in the proceedings will be playing to the cameras and will thus be distracted from the proper performance of their roles – whether as counsel, witnesses, court personnel, or judges – will be allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the bar of justice and the bar of public opinion may jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination of the cases can be minimized. The possibility that judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal before the court of justice can render its own will be avoided.
At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial – which, it may be assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of those in favor of, televised trials – will be addressed since the tapes will not be released for public showing until after the decision of the cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the release of the tapes, much of the problem posed by real time TV and radio broadcast will be avoided. Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trials can be served by audio-visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused to a fair trial.
Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Capulong, this Court set aside a lower court’s injunction restraining the filming of “Four Day Revolution,” a documentary film depicting, among other things, the role of then Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people power. This Court held: “A limited intrusion into a person’s privacy has long been regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sought to be elicited from him or to be published about him constitute matters of a public character.  No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if a documentary record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later be produced can be checked for its accuracy against such documentary and any attempt to distort the truth can thus be averted. Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of celebrated cases or causes celebres was made way back in 1971 by Paul Freund of the Harvard Law School. As he explained: In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay friends found similarly moving.
An educational television network filmed a trial in Denver of a Black Panther leader on charges of resisting arrest, and broadcast the document in full, in four installments, several months after the case was concluded – concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal. No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect for the painstaking way in which the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby law copes with uncertainties and ambiguities through presumptions and burden of proof, and the sense of gravity with which judge and jury carried out their responsibilities.
I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom, for the familiar good reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial for documentary purposes, not for the broadcast of live news, and with the safeguards of completeness and consent, is an educational experiment that I would be prepared to welcome. Properly safeguarded and with suitable commentary, the depiction of an actual trial is an agency of enlightenment that could have few equals in its impact on the public understanding.
Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our educational system, is now a desperate need.  Professor Freund’s observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty years ago. It is perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair administration of justice by live TV and radio broadcasts, especially when emotions are running high on the issues stirred by a case, while at the same time acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual recordings of the proceedings of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after passions have subsided.
WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the account of the Sandiganbayan, under the following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held public under Rule 119, §21 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the movement of TV crews shall be regulated consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall be made for documentary purposes only and hall be made without comment except such annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall have rendered its decision in all the cases against the former President shall be prohibited under pain of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of the audio-visual recordings for public broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.