news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

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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entertainment, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

A Reaction to the Promotion of Sen. Tito Sotto to the Senate Presidency

Welcome to the ‘Tito Sen’ era.

Monday afternoon marked a changing of the guard at the Senate, as erstwhile Senate President Koko Pimentel relinquished his position in favor of Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III. The long-time senator/entertainer will now take on a more arduous task of leading the Senate for the next several years.

It also means that ‘Tito Sen’, as his co-hosts at ‘Eat Bulaga’ call him, will no longer join his fellow Dabarkads at the said noontime show for an indefinite time period. Given the many responsibilities of a Senate President, it was only fitting for Sotto to leave ‘Eat Bulaga’ since he would stay busy even during days without Senate sessions.

Sotto, nearing 70, has served a total of four terms as Senator. He had been elected to the Senate on four different occasions: 1992, 1998, 2010 and 2016.

The selection of Tito Sotto as Senate President earned mostly negative reactions from netizens. Most of them cite some of Sotto’s most controversial moments as both an entertainer and senator; namely the Pepsi Paloma rape scandal in the 1980s, the plagiarized RH Bill speech in 2012, and the ‘na-ano’ statement to Judy Taguiwalo in 2017.

But in the defense of some, Sotto has a track record that is more than enough to justify his ascendance atop the Senate. Aside from his four terms as Senator (this made him the longest-tenured current Senator by service time), he also served as Quezon City Vice Mayor from 1988-92, and was part of the Dangerous Drugs Board from 2008-09.

In addition, Sotto belongs to an influential family, some of whom also dabbled into politics. His grandfather, Vicente Yap Sotto, served at the Senate from 1946-50, his children Gian and Lala currently serve as Quezon City councilors, and nephew Vico (son of Vic Sotto and Coney Reyes) is currently a Pasig City councilor.

The negatives that come with Tito Sotto may be an overreaction to his recurring role as an entertainer. After all, politicians with showbiz backgrounds tend to carry greater scrutiny than those who come from other fields (see Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada).

However, in the case of Tito Sotto, these controversies were just minor bumps to an otherwise distinguished mark in public service. People may like it or not, but until another changing of the guard takes place, the Senate Presidency will belong to one Vicente Sotto III.

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FTT’s Thoughts on Journalists Running for the Senate

The 2019 mid-term elections is still over a year away.

This early, prognosticators are starting to look at potential candidates who are poised to take over half of the Senate seats come July of next year. And not surprisingly, there are a few names from the broadcast industry that were mentioned as potential candidates for one of the twelve Senate seats available.

Take for instance Jiggy Manicad. The long-time GMA News reporter and anchor is being considered as a possible candidate for a Senate seat according to Senate President Koko Pimentel.

Consequently, Jiggy announced his departure from GMA News within days of the report, saying that he wants to jump into the ‘next level’ of public service. But he was not the only news personality to be mentioned as a possible Senate candidate.

In a recent Pulse Asia survey, PTV-4 news anchor Erwin Tulfo was listed in the top 12 of potential top candidates for a seat in the Senate. So far, Erwin has yet to comment on the matter.

Journalists running for public office is nothing new in the Philippines. Perhaps one can look at the two most successful journalists-turned-politicians of the recent past.

Noli de Castro, the ‘Kabayan’ of primetime television news, ran as Senator and won in 2001. Three years later, he became then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s running-mate for Vice President and became victorious, serving for another six years before resuming his career as a news anchor.

Another ABS-CBN News alumnus, Loren Legarda, also ran for a Senate seat in 1998 and won. She has since earned another two terms at the Senate in 2007 and 2013.

But not all journalists were destined for political office. Jay Sonza, for instance, twice tried to run for Senator but failed to earn a seat each time.

That said, any journalist who enters the world of politics, particularly in a highly-scrutinized position such as the Senate, must be well-rehearsed to handle the demands of the campaign and their role if elected. If they do not have what it takes, chances are they will not get the majority votes from the masses.

The election period is still over a year away, so there is a lot of time for the likes of Jiggy Manicad and Erwin Tulfo to consider the risks and rewards of the political arena. Good luck, not just with them, but also to any journalist who want to join the bandwagon.

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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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