Bill seeks to make court proceedings available for media and the public

Cagayan de Oro second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez filed House Bill 7681 or “Sunshine in the Courtroom Act” that seeks to allow court proceedings to be made available to the public. The bill will enable broadcasting, televising, recording, and taking photos of court sessions while guaranteeing impartial trials for all parties involved. The Supreme Court will be responsible for issuing rules and regulations to implement the proposed bill.

Currently, only Congress proceedings can be aired or recorded by the press in the Philippines. Although reporters can attend court proceedings, they are not allowed to use any gadgets to record or document the trial. They can only rely on handwritten notes or access stenographic notes, which may take some time.

The proposed bill authorizes judges and justices from various courts, such as the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Courts, the Metropolitan Trial Court, and the Metropolitan Circuit Court, to allow media access to court proceedings. These judges or justices will have the responsibility of deciding whether publicizing the proceedings will endanger parties or the court itself.

In addition, the bill also seeks to provide guidelines on media coverage to ensure the safety of the parties involved and the court’s security. An example is the recording or taking photos of privileged communication between clients and lawyers which will be prohibited, and case parties may also request to have their faces or voices obscured in the recording.