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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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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Case Solved Adds to GMA’s Saturday Afternoon Madness

It is safe to say that GMA’s Saturday afternoon lineup is an absolute mess.

Since ‘Startalk’ left the airwaves nearly two years ago, three successor shows have tried to fill the void that the former left. Unfortunately, neither ‘CelebriTV’, ‘Laff Camera Action’ nor ‘#Like’ were able to make an impact.

To make matters worse, the block now features three shows that appear indistinguishable from one another. ‘Karelasyon’, ‘Wish Ko Lang’ and ‘Imbestigador’ may be different shows in name, but their formats are way too similar to each other, especially now that the latter two employ greater amounts of dramatization than before.

Now add a fourth show with a similar premise. Starting this Saturday, GMA will introduce the docu-drama series ‘Case Solved’, to be hosted by Dingdong Dantes.

Here is an excerpt from the GMA Network Public Relations Department:

Case Solved features sensational and controversial real-life cases ranging from nonaggressive to violent circumstance derived from Philippines’ Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) handled by the country’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), judicial agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ), Supreme Court and Bureau of Corrections. More than presenting how the crime is committed, it further explains how the crime is solved.

Hosted by none other than Kapuso Primetime King Dingdong Dantes, this program presents solved cases that will empower and educate the viewers in predicting the probability of a crime before it occurs.

Let’s face it, does GMA need another ‘Imbestigador’ at this point? Because based on the description, ‘Case Solved’ is just another crime-solving program that GMA concocted, even though they already have one in ‘Imbestigador’.

That said, the addition of ‘Case Solved’ does not solve anything as far as their Saturday afternoon lineup goes. The lack of diversity in the block is something that might concern viewers, especially now that ABS-CBN is pulling away in the ratings with ‘Ipaglaban Mo’, ‘SOCO’, ‘Mga Kwento ni Marc Logan’ and ‘Family Feud’.

A moral victory or disaster awaits ‘Case Solved’. GMA can only hope that the show can defy the odds and at least make their block more interesting than ever.

‘Case Solved’ airs starting this Saturday after ‘Eat Bulaga’ on GMA.

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PNoy’s Speech and Impact on TV Programming

President Noynoy Aquino’s address on the Disbursement Acceleration Program forced several television stations to halt their scheduled programs. (Photo credit: Bullit Marquez, Associated Press)

President Noynoy Aquino’s impromptu speech in relation to the Disbursement Acceleration Program made a huge impact on television programming.

The near-30 minute speech saw the President defend the controversial bill, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Highlights of his speech include his criticism on predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Supreme Court’s declaration, and his enumeration of the DAP’s supposed benefits.

Unfortunately, his lengthy address proved too much for several television stations to handle. Episodes of ABS-CBN’s ‘Pure Love’ and GMA’s ‘My BFF’ were halted just 10 minutes into their running time, and were not resumed. The unfinished episodes of both programs are scheduled to re-air in full later tonight.

Meanwhile, the live NCAA seniors basketball game between Lyceum and Mapua on TV5 and AksyonTV was cut with over 3 minutes left, and was only resumed on the latter following the ‘Aksyon’ newscast.

And over at GMA News TV and ABS-CBN Sports+Action, episodes of ‘MARS’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’ were temporarily put on hold during the televised address, resuming after the end of the broadcast.

While GMA News TV and ABS-CBN Sports+Action’s decision to air the address and delay ongoing programming is excusable, the same cannot be said for their mother networks. Instead of pre-empting their teleseryes in favor of news coverage of the address, GMA and ABS-CBN continued to air them without realizing the consequences. As a result, their decision left viewers puzzled and unsatisfied, since neither program resumed following the address.

For NCAA fans, the feeling is all too familiar. TV5’s decision to cut away from the ongoing NCAA telecast was just another blunder committed by the network since acquiring the rights to the league. The lack of a commercial-free and uninterrupted online livestream service for the game was also a cause of concern.

Events like this should serve as a lesson to programming directors. In an impromptu national event like President Aquino’s address, programming directors should take note of the length of the event and the possible consequences to ongoing programs, so that they can be prepared for any eventuality. If done the right way, viewers will benefit well from the change.

With that in mind, the upcoming State of the Nation Address is just two weeks away. And for major networks, this event should help them restructure their programming  in order to inform viewers of any pre-emptions.

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