‘Journalists are not the story’

Rappler.com
Prosecution summons journalists as witnesses in the impeachment trial

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran journalist and Rappler editor at large Marites Dañguilan-Vitug on Friday, January 27, rejected a prosecution request for her to testify at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

On Friday, a press release from the prosecution team announced that they have invited as witnesses 4 journalists, among others.

Aside from Vitug, the prosecution said they will also be summoning to the witness stand the following journalists: Criselda Yabes and Raissa Robles, both freelancers, and Ina Reformina, a reporter of ABS-CBN.

In her letter to lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas, Vitug said: “I am surprised to learn that I am listed as one of the prosecution’s witnesses for Article 7. I have repeatedly explained to your colleagues that I am not going to testify in the impeachment trial. All my works are public and they speak for themselves. And, of course, you know that confidential sources is another matter.”

She added: “Journalists are NOT the story. We tell the story. We merely chronicle our country’s comings and goings in the best way we can. This is how we serve the country.”

Vitug, Yabes, and Robles were speciflcally called to “testify among others on the close personal relationship between Corona and GMA and other allegations contained in the Verified Complaint, and other pleadings filed by complainants, and other matters relevant to the instant case,” according to the press release.

Vitug is the author of the best-selling book on the Supreme Court, “Shadow of Doubt,” and is a founding editor of Newsbreak.

Yabes, on the other hand, co-wrote a book with Vitug on landmark human rights cases handled by the Supreme Court. She has never written anything about Corona and his ties to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In her letter to Tupas also on Friday, Yabes said she will not be able to testify. “The book that I co-wrote with Marites Vitug on the Supreme Court, called “Our Rights, Our Victories,” has nothing at all to do with Chief Justice Renato Corona. It is about the Court’s landmark cases spanning over forty years, and not one of the sixteen cases in our book involves Justice Corona or any of his cases.”

Yabes added: “To put us there would most likely be a waste of time and effort, and I am sure there would be others in your list who would best serve your purpose as chief prosecutor.” 

Robles writes a blog that is carried by www.abs-cbnnews.com. Like Vitug, she has investigated the properties and decisions of Corona as Chief Justice, among others.

The prosecution team also said they will summon Ina Reformina to testify on the following: “(1) That the TRO allowing GMA to leave the country was issued before 6 p.m. on 15 Nov. 2011; (2) That service of the TRO to the Department of Justice was attempted to be made before 6 pm on 15 Nov. 2011; (3) That Compliance with TRO requirements, such as the posting of the bond, among others, was made after 6 pm on 15 Nov. 2011; (4) Statements made by the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court;  (5) On the allegations contained in the Verified Complaint, and other pleadings filed by complainants, and other matters relevant to the instant case.”

Reformina covers the Supreme Court for ABS-CBN. – Rappler.com