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SerenoSerye Over: Sereno’s Ouster as Chief Justice Now Final

Consider it final, official and irrevocable.

Over a month after Supreme Court justices voted in favor of ousting erstwhile Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto, the court decided to formally vacate the position of Chief Justice after rejecting Sereno’s motion for reconsideration to reverse the ruling. President Rodrigo Duterte will now have 90 days to pick a new Chief Justice.

The saga surrounding Sereno had been well-documented for the past several months. It began in August when Atty. Larry Gadon filed articles of impeachment to Congress that questioned Sereno’s missing assets, liabilities and net worth.

A lengthy series of hearings followed at the Batasan Pambansa that ran from September 2017 to February 2018. Throughout the course of the hearings, Supreme court justices and staff testified in front of the House Committee of Justice and they added further detail to Sereno’s misdeeds in the years prior to becoming Chief Justice.

In March, the Justice Committee overwhelmingly approved the articles of impeachment filed against Sereno. But just as the impeachment process began to roll along, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition that seeks to invalidate Sereno’s appointment.

Last May, the Supreme Court voted 8-6 in favor of the quo warranto, removing Sereno from the Chief Justice post. Later that month, Sereno filed a motion for reconsideration that sought to reverse the court’s original ruling, which was then quashed by another 8-6 vote Tuesday afternoon.

With the court’s ruling now final, Atty. Gadon’s impeachment complaint is now deemed ‘moot’ and ‘academic’ by the House of Representatives, and is expected to be terminated. It also means that the possible third Senate impeachment trial of the current millennium will no longer materialize.

Had the quo warranto not been filed and approved, viewers would have had a field day watching the proceedings at the Senate. But as it stands now, there will not be a repeat of what happened in the impeachment trials of former President Joseph Estrada and former Chief Justice Renato Corona, in which high drama and tension filled the Senate.

Now that Maria Lourdes Sereno is no longer the Chief Justice, the so-called “SerenoSerye” is officially over. It was a long and exhaustive procedure to say the least, but for the many people involved in the drama, it was worth telling.

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Final Thoughts on The House Hearings of the Sereno Impeachment Case

Facing the music: The fate of the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will be decided at the House of Representatives later this week. (Photo credit: GMA News Online)

It was a sigh of relief, for now.

Last week, the House Justice Committee officially wrapped up its hearings on the impeachment case against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The hearings, which began in September 2017, focused on the complaints filed by Atty. Larry Gadon against Sereno, particularly the latter’s statement of assets and liabilities that were deemed questionable.

Throughout the proceedings, fellow Supreme Court justices, staff and other witnesses testified in front of House Justice Committee chairman, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, and the other members of the committee. In total, 14 hearings took place that lasted around 12 hours each.

At first, the country’s top news outlets like ANC, GMA News TV, CNN Philippines and even Rappler were present to broadcast the proceedings in various platforms. However, it became clear that other important events and the overall length of each hearing took its toll on each network’s coverage, and by the final day the hearings were all but forgotten.

It also didn’t help that the hearings got in the way of important news programs. ANC, for example, has cut its coverage short at times in favor of live newscasts.

But for whatever shortcomings television and radio has, social media can take care of it. Viewers who were faithfully following the Sereno impeachment hearings from day one can thank the Facebook pages of each of the media outlets (particularly ABS-CBN News and Rappler) for providing uninterrupted and no-holds-barred action of the event.

Such is the complicated nature of the Sereno impeachment hearings. Those 12 hours spent at the Batasan Pambansa were at times draining for media personnel, who were tasked to digest whatever words the witnesses, Rep. Umali and his fellow congressmen said.

Still, the hearings were only the beginning. While Chief Justice Sereno goes on indefinite leave, the House Justice Committee commences its vote on the matter, and if they approve it, the Senate will now take care of business by virtue of an impeachment trial.

But in a late-breaking story, Solicitor General Jose Calida sought the Supreme Court for the nullification of Sereno’s appointment, citing the same complaint Atty. Gadon filed against her. This could get complicated because in the event that Sereno is removed from her post, the potential impeachment trial might be thrown into chaos.

Regardless, media outlets should brace for the inevitable. The next few months could be crucial, so good luck with that.

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In 100 Words: Busy News Day at Senate and House

The Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia vaccine begins today at 10:00 a.m. even as the House of Representatives continues its deliberations on the Sereno impeachment case. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

It will be a very busy day for journalists inside the Senate and the House of Representatives.

While the House Committee on Justice will continue its ongoing impeachment hearings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will begin deliberations on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine. With two news-worthy events running at almost the same time, it will be very hard for viewers to keep up.

The same can be said for the media who will cover the two hearings today. To the folks at ABS-CBN News, GMA News, CNN Philippines and Rappler, good luck in making the most out of the two live events.

If not, there is always live streaming to cover all the interruptions and mistakes.

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Thoughts on Sereno Impeachment Hearings

The central character: Atty. Larry Gadon looks on during one of the latest episodes of the impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Photo credit: Manila Bulletin)

It is officially Week 3 of the so-called ‘Serenoserye’.

At 9:30 a.m. today, the sixth episode of the impeachment hearings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will commence at the Batasan Pambansa. And based on the first five episodes of the ongoing series, all of the people involved have exhausted all the time and effort to reveal everything that is to know.

On average, each episode of the impeachment hearings last for seven to nine hours. Because of the severe length of the hearings, the media networks that are tasked to cover the event had a hard time keeping up, thanks in large part to other concurrent events that affect the country.

More often than not, live coverage of the impeachment hearings were rudely interrupted by a live appearance and address from either President Rodrigo Duterte or any of his staff (namely spokesperson Harry Roque). The President and his men’s constant interruptions have often made the hearings irrelevant at best.

It is always mandatory for news networks to cut from an ongoing Senate or House hearing to President Duterte once he begins to speak in public. After all, the executive branch is always a priority over all other branches of government.

But what baffles many is the treatment in which media outlets approach the hearings. On the good side, GMA News and Rappler provide an uninterrupted live stream of the impeachment hearings on YouTube, with GMA News using one that is exclusive online and not on traditional media.

However, the same cannot be said for ABS-CBN News and CNN Philippines. ABS-CBN News, in particular, provides viewers the feed from the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) and not one that is an independent online feed.

News5? Consider them extinct and moribund at this point.

With the impeachment hearings to continue until January 2018 at the latest, news outlets must find a way to maximize its coverage. There is no excuse for getting interrupted by another concurrent live event; someone should look at other manners with which the impeachment hearings are utilized.

If not, let’s just hope that Congressman Reynaldo Umali and the Justice Committee end each episode at the soonest possible time. Nine hours is just too exhausting to be honest.

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GMA to Revive Dobol B sa News TV Block This April

A new (or old) program block is set to return to GMA News TV.

It was announced that the ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ block will be revived on the network this coming April. The teaser below shows hosts Mike Enriquez (of ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’), Arnold Clavio and Ali Sotto (of ‘Dobol A sa Dobol B’) talking about their impending return to the small screen via GMA News TV.

Initially launched on February 28, 2011, ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ is essentially a simulcast of early morning programs from Super Radyo DZBB 594. The first iteration of the block consists of the following programs:

  • Saksi sa Dobol B (hosted by Mike Enriquez)
  • Super Balita sa Umaga Nationwide (anchored by Mike Enriquez and Joel Reyes Zobel)
  • One on One with Igan (hosted by Arnold Clavio and Lala Roque)

The block ran from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on weekdays and it competed against DZMM TeleRadyo shows ‘Kabayan’, ‘Radyo Patrol Balita Alas-Siyete’ and ‘Failon Ngayon sa DZMM’. However, the block had its flaws, the most notable of which are the ill-timed placing of taped news reports during commercial breaks and product advisories.

GMA News TV’s Teleradyo-like experiment lasted until September 7, 2012, when it was cancelled due to low ratings. After that, with the exception of a short-lived revival of ‘Kape at Balita’, News TV’s 6:00-9:00 a.m. slot was given to reruns of GMA Public Affairs shows, classic action movies, Koreanovelas, TV shopping blocks, and even the teleserye ‘Amaya’.

The revival of ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ should give viewers another reason to believe in News TV. While the network’s quality of programming is still questionable, their recent live coverage of high-profile Senate and House hearings is a sign that the channel is improving and that a return to form is imminent.

Still, even with the return of DZBB programs to News TV, how long can this latest experiment last? One can only hope that the simulcast will be the first step towards News TV’s true transformation into a legitimate news channel without any of the extracurricular activities present in them.

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Fixing Radyo5 (and AksyonTV) Under Miguel Belmonte

New man in charge: Miguel Belmonte will now run Radyo5 and AksyonTV, hoping to restore the credibility of both stations (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

New man in charge: Miguel Belmonte will now run Radyo5 and AksyonTV, hoping to restore the credibility of both stations. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

TV5’s renovation goes beyond Channel 5.

A few weeks ago, From the Tube discussed the plans that Chot Reyes envisioned for TV5, which included the return of AniMEGA and the entry of director Brillante Mendoza to the fold. Now let’s focus on the renovation project of TV5’s sister stations AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM, both of which are now under the leadership of The Philippine Star CEO Miguel Belmonte.

Last year was a poor one for both stations, not only in coverage but also in programming. The plight of Radyo5 and AksyonTV was well-documented, from the departures of Martin Andanar and Cherie Mercado, to their inability to cover significant news-worthy events that other stations were deeply committed to.

Replacing erstwhile head Gladys Lana-Lucas with Miguel Belmonte serves as a first step to restore the news-gathering capabilities of both Radyo5 and AksyonTV. That said, here’s a look at both stations’ needs that Belmonte must address.

New Shows and New Hosts

Radyo5 really needs new hosts and new shows, period. The departures of Andanar, Mercado, Anthony Pangilinan and Benjie Felipe were deeply felt within the station, and Gladys Lana-Lucas’ inability to process replacements led to her dismissal.

This is one area that Belmonte must look at immediately, because from the looks of it, Radyo5 will never be equal to more established AM stations like DZMM, DZBB and DZRH. Heck, he can even sign a blocktime deal with another media outfit, similar to DZRJ 810 AM’s agreement with 8TriMedia.

Greater Commitment to Live Events

Radyo5 was essentially absent during important live events such as the hearings on extra-judicial killings and President Rodrigo Duterte’s public addresses. To do so, Belmonte must convince the hosts of Radyo5 to give way to events such as this in order to give its listeners an idea on what is going on (take note, Raffy Tulfo and Niña Taduran).

Although the PBA’s priority on the network could put an end to ongoing news coverage once it goes overtime, the least that Radyo5 can do is to prove that they are a worthy news-covering machine on FM radio. There may be some constraints, but covering the news on the spot is better than nothing at all.

Embrace TeleRadyo Format on AksyonTV

AksyonTV wastes a lot of time by airing TV shopping blocks and reruns of now-defunct shows during vacant time periods. So why not allot the time for a TeleRadyo-esque format instead, except during live sporting events.

Since 2011, AksyonTV has been simulcasting select Radyo5 programs. The time is perhaps now to fully integrate the TeleRadyo in AksyonTV, given that the network no longer intends to produce original programs like they did in the past.

Improve AksyonTV’s Power and Revenue

This is indeed the most important need of the station. AksyonTV has long been criticized for its poor signal and power, which was the primary reason why the NCAA returned to ABS-CBN Sports and the PBA forced TV5 to air all of their games on VHF Channel 5 only.

Now under Belmonte, the time is now for AksyonTV to improve its facilities, power and reach to serve more viewers. But to do so, the station needs the backing of advertisers in order to provide much-needed revenue.

Miguel Belmonte’s role in restoring Radyo5 and AksyonTV will not be easy, given the extensive damage that both stations endured last year. That said, patience is a virtue, and if all the right buttons are pushed, then Radyo5 92.3 News FM and AksyonTV could return to prominence as soon as possible.

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