Sec. De Lima denies issuing gag order on cases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 June) — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima denied she has issued an order prohibiting media from getting updates on cases filed with her department.

Last year, City Prosecutor Raul Bendigo had cited Memorandum Circular No. 9 reportedly issued by the Department of Justice prohibiting media from getting updates on any cases, although the parties that are directly involved may make follow-ups.

“I don’t prohibit media from getting updates on the process of the cases,” she said during the first Anti-Trafficking in Persons Conference in the Autonomous Region of Muslim in Mindanao (ARMM) held at the Water Front Insular Hotel Wednesday.

“What is the rationale behind this? I’ll check on it,” De Lima said, adding she is promoting transparency and had no idea about the memorandum.

She said that in Manila she allows reporters to get information on cases, including those on the case against former president Gloria M. Arroyo even if it was still on the state of preliminary investigation.

However, Regional State Prosecutor Antonio Arellano said the Justice Secretary may just have been confused by the question.

“Marami siyang iniisip at inaasikaso na mga problema baka na misunderstand niya ang tanong,” (She’s thinking about many things and problems so she could have misunderstood the question) he said.

“We are just following the memorandum, unless i-revoke ang memo na ito,” Arellano said, calling the memorandum a “protection of the interest of all the concerned parties in a case and so as not to hamper the speedy and impartial disposition of cases”.

He said media can access information from everywhere but not from their office because they are protecting the confidentiality of the documents.

Arellano also said [media exposure] might influence the decision of the prosecutor hence it would be better to wait for the resolution. (MindaNews)