Wednesday, February 10, 1999  

Bailen's presscon........... 'outrageous' by Judge.... Ocampo

     ANYONE who presents "unadmitted" evidence out of court may be held in contempt.

      Invoking this rule, Judge Martin Ocampo yesterday reminded possible violators --- the defense panel, prosecution lawyers, private complainants, the public and the media --- to be more careful.

      He was referring to the press conference organized by accused Josman Aznar's mother Jodi last Friday. It tackled the results of the examination of prosecution evidence by Manila-based forensic experts led by University of the Philippines professor Jerome Bailen.

      Bailen, two colleagues and Sisinio Andales, Aznar's lawyer, spoke before the media.

      Because Bailen was not allowed to testify, accused Alberto Caņo was presented yesterday as the first sur-rebuttal witness. (See separate story)  

      Ocampo, who said he welcomes discussion in open court, described the press conference as "outrageous and riling."

      What Andales should have done was to file a motion containing his arguments and a copy of the Bailen report. This way, Ocampo said, the lawyer may give the media copies because everything becomes public record. 

Faithful report
Why can the media be held in contempt?

      "All that the media is supposed to publish are faithful and accurate reports of proceedings that transpire before this court," Ocampo said in an order, copies of which were also released to reporters.

      Andales wanted to present Bailen as sur-rebuttal witness to testify that doubts exist as to the identity of the woman found at the foot of a ravine in Carcar. It was identified by prosecution experts as Marijoy Chiong.

      Ocampo said Andales' manifestation violates the rule as identity was not touched during the presentation of rebuttal evidence.

      He formally denied in his order yesterday Andales' motion to receive Bailen's testimony on the ground that it is "dilatory and not in the interest of justice."


      Any petition certiori "or whatever: is welcome, he said.

      As to media, Ocampo pointed out the court has "inherent powers" to put an end to out-of-court criticism and presentation of unadmitted evidence using the media.

      These activities are "still sub-judice" and it is "improper" for the accused, relatives and their lawyers to criticize or demean the court and its rulings before the media or public, he stressed. 

      Private prosecutor Honorato Hermosisima yesterday brought to Ocampo's attention the holding of the press conference at Alta Vista Country Club, principally owned by the Aznars.

      Ocampo, however, said Andales already told media they did it in "good faith, without malice."

      But, he said in his order: "They undermine the independence of the judiciary . . . causing our people to lose trust in their judges and courts."

      "Any such further public critical statements or press conferences shall, therefore, constrain this court to hold all concerned, including media, in contempt," he added. 

      "This warning equally applies to the complainants and the public and private prosecutors as well. After this court has rendered its judgment in these cases, they may publicly criticize the same and its ruling as much as they want, but not while the cases are sub-judice."

      In his order, Ocampo explained his reasons for overruling Andales' manifestation:

      >The defense had "more ample time" to present Bailen since last Jan. 8. Last Feb. 1, or three weeks since Bailen and his team examined the prosecution's evidence, the defense was deemed to have waived further presentation of evidence.

      >Experts would only testify on the "doubts" and recommend an exhumation, which "desecrates the dead." Besides the body is immaterial as defense to a kidnapping and serious illegal detention case.

      He noted that the crime happened on July 16, 1997, but the trial started only last Aug. 12.

      As against the Supreme Court order that cases involving heinous crimes should be terminated in 60 days, the Chiong case has been litigated for 181 days now.

      If the court allow "Bailen and Co." to testify, Ocampo said the prosecution would have to prsent more rebuttal evidence and the defense more sur-rebuttal evidence.

      "Hence the trial of these cases would probably continue until 2000 which is definitely intolerable, if not unconscionable."  OCD

NOTE:  1.  RED COLOR OURS FOR EMPHASIS.                                                                                

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