Puno: Keep the Supreme Court spokesman
MANILA, Philippines - Amid the ongoing guessing game over the Supreme Court's new communication strategy and structure, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno said having an SC spokesman is one of the reforms he said should be "preserved."
Puno told GMA-7 in an interview that the SC should retain having a spokesman even as new Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has introduced a policy of "dignified silence."
Upon her appointment in August, Sereno said that she will not grant media interviews, a departure from the practice of her predecessor, dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona. (Corona was removed by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court in May for failing to disclose P180 million in peso and dollar deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth).
Sereno said the stand of justices is best known through their decisions.
Puno said he agrees with the need of adopting a "dignified silence" policy in the sense that magistrates should not give their opinions or air their comments on political issues and pending cases.
He stressed, though, that this policy should not diminish transparency in the courts, adding having a spokesman was introduced in the SC to "demystify" the Court. It was Davide who established the PIO in 1998. The first SC spokesman was lawyer Ismael Khan, who worked under the time of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide.
Sereno has yet to roll out her communication plan after coming out with a memorandum saying the staff and officers of the Public Information Office will only hold offices until October 31, since their positions are co-terminus with that of acting chief justice Antonio Carpio. (Carpio, being the most senior justice, served as acting chief justice from May until August, after which Sereno took over).
PIO spokeswoman Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said they have yet to receive updates from the Office of Chief Justice, however.
Sereno has appointed "communicators" of reforms in the SC, but the PIO has ceased from giving weekly updates on the decisions issued by the Court every Tuesday, when the SC holds its en banc sessions.
Confusion over a recent temporary restraining order has also transpired, with the media initially informed that the SC stopped the arraignment of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for a plunder case over the millons worth of intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
The PIO later clarifed that it only covered Arroyo's fellow respondent in the case, former Commission on Audit intel head Nilda Plaras.- Rappler.com