SC sets rules on 'Team Patay' oral debates
MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has released the guidelines that will govern the oral arguments on March 19 on the Diocese of Bacolod's petition against the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) take-down order on the former's "Team Patay, Team Buhay" tarpaulins.
The tarpaulins list down the names of senatorial bets in the upcoming May polls that the diocese said should not get the public's votes because they favored the Reproductive Health Law.
The candidates tagged as members of 'Team Patay' are Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.
Party-list groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis are also on the Team Patay list.
Senatorial bets Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar are on the 'Team Buhay' list for opposing the RH law.
The poll body has ordered the Diocese to bring down the tarpaulins for allegedly violating campaign rules.
In a 3-page Advisory, the high court directed the petitioner, represented by Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, and respondents Comelec and Bacolod Election Officer (EO) Atty. Mavil Majarucon to present their respective sides on the following issues:
- Whether or not the 22 Feb. 2013 Notice/Order by EO Majarucon and the 27 Feb. 2013 Order by the Comelec Law Dept. are considered judgments/final orders/resolutions of the Comelec which would warrant a review of the high court via a Rule 65 petition (certiorari, prohibition and mandamus).
(a) Whether or not the Diocese of Bacolod violated the hierarchy of courts doctrine and jurisprudential rules governing appeals from Comelec Decisions;
(b) Assuming arguendo that the aforementioned Orders are not considered judgments/final orders/resolutions of the Comelec, whether there are exceptional circumstances which would allow the high court to take cognizance of the case.
- Whether or not it is relevant to determine whether the tarpaulins are "political advertisement" or "election propaganda" considering that petitioner is not a political candidate.
- Whether or not the tarpaulins are a form of expression (protected speech), or election propaganda/political advertisement.
(a) Assuming that the tarpaulins are a form of expression, whether or not the Comelec possesses the authority to regulate the same.
(b) Whether or not this form of expression may be regulated.
- Whether or not the 22 Feb. 2013 Notice/Order by EO Majarucon and the 27 Feb. 2013 Order by the Comelec Law Dept. violated the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
- Whether or not the action of the petitioners in posting its tarpaulin violates the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Each side will be given 20 minutes to make their respective presentations.
The justices of the high court will interpellate the parties after each presentation of arguments.