Miriam mulls contempt raps vs survey firms

by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2012 05:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 27 2012 01:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago once again vehemently objected to the latest survey of Pulse Asia and other surveys being conducted that have Chief Justice Renato Corona or the impeachment as their main subject.

She said the release of the survey results is contemptuous because it is a clear violation of rules of court, particularly with regard to contempt.

She said the surveys tend to influence the minds not only of the public, but more importantly of the senator-judges who will soon be deciding the case.

"Kung nagboto siya laban doon sa survey nayun baka mamamaya matalo siya, that is the point that is being insidiously inserted in the subconscious mind of the senator-judges by that survey, so that survey is very destructive of the judicial process,” she said. 

Santiago even challenged Pulse Asia to tell the public who are the owners of that survey group and who commissioned, or sponsored, the survey.

"It is an effort to decide the case not according to the law but according to the survey and whether the survey is conducted in bad faith or not is a big, big question", she said. "I challenge Pulse Asia to reveal to me who are the actual and direct owners of Pulse Asia and who actually commissioned this survey and why they are released so near to the promulgation of judgment.”
Santiago warned those who will not stop releasing survey results that she will be compelled to file contempt charges against them.

She said, "parang sabi nila sa akin, balewala naman ang pinagsasabi mo you are only 1 of 23, kung ganon attitude nila, I will be compelled, dahil sa ilalim ng rules of court, the court itself can motu propio, meaning on its own initiative, file a petition for indirect contempt. Wag nila ako ganyanin, don't push the envelope too far because I might react."
Santiago also learned that the Ateneo community also published its own survey regarding Chief Justice Corona.

While she believes in the freedom of expression, Santiago said no freedom or liberty is absolute or unlimited.

She said: "Alright let's test it, they are making all claims to legal rights, let's test it!”

Santiago added, "how would all RTC judges feel, or all trial judges, kung nagbibista ka pa ng kaso nakalagay na sa dyaryo na ayaw pala ng publiko ang ganitong paghuhusga, gusto pala ng publiko ganyang paghuhusga, that is a blatant attempt to influence the minds of the judge which is not allowed at all in any self-respecting judicial process."
The judiciary, Santiago said, is supposed to be independent from the influences of public opinion.

She says there is a rule of law that senator-judges should strictly adhere to. She said, "wala na palang ka-kwenta-kwenta ang mga libro natin tungkol sa batas, dapat pala mag-survey na lang tayo bawat may kaso."

She added, "di makatarungan resulta niyan dahil pwede namang mabili ang public opinion by means of a media campaign or a media blitz in the social media."