Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Impeachment may be political but media role is not to 'enrage' public

Impeachment being denominated "political" does not mean that the role of media during such trials is–to Hofilena–to "enrage them or inspire them" for partisan ends.

Impeachment is "political," because the accusers come from a body of politicians–elective representatives of the qualified electors in their respective districts–and the accused is a public officer charged with having abused or violated the public trust; hence, the penalty for the convicted officer handed down by another assembly of politicians, the Senate, is removal from an office of public trust and perpetual disqualification from holding public office thereafter.

But even though the accusers and the judges are politicians and the trial itself is dubbed as "political"; the Senate Rules of Procedure on Impeachments (2011) clearly provide otherwise, since Senators–in their role as judges–are required to solemnly swear to or affirm that each one of them "will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws of the Philippines: (So help me God)."
The words inscribed in this Oath are echoed in a provision in the same Senate rule which emphasizes that:

"Senators shall observe political neutrality during the course of the impeachment trial. 'Political neutrality' shall be defined as exercise of public official's duty without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference."

This rule is consistent with Alexander Hamilton's exhortation (The Federalist No. 65) that Senators must strive "to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality" befitting their role as judges during such trials.

Hamilton, nonetheless, is cognizant of the political reality that–

"The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."

Hence, owing to the "political" credentials of the accusers and the judges, Hamilton concludes:

"The difficulty of placing it rightly, in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodical elections, will as readily be perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this account, can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny."

Not only that–and owing to the relentless barrage of open political propaganda as well–what the public is now made to endure is that, by peddling "rumors for ratings," corporate media and social networking (as defined) have since lowered "traditional standards on checking sources and facts" to the point of distortion and misinformation.

Still, I'm confident the Filipino is not as naive and as easily manipulated as portrayed to be.

(In fact, "the most unqualified" may have been declared the winner in 2010, but PNoy was able to garner only 42.6% of valid votes cast for president–not the "overwhelming majority" media trumpeted.)

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Comment on Get Real Post at
http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2012/01/medias-role-in-philippine-society-undermines-rather-than-strengthens-the-process-of-seeking-truth/comment-page-1/#comment-21289

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