Mar 142013
The Supreme Court has issued guidelines on the oral arguments—scheduled for Tuesday, March 19—on the controversial “Team Patay, Team Buhay” posters that were hung in a Bacolod cathedral.

In a notice signed by SC Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal, the high court informed both respondent (the Commission on Elections) and petitioner (Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra) that they would each be given 20 minutes, regardless of the number of lawyers they would be bringing, to defend their respective positions.

The high court last week issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the Comelec from tearing down the controversial posters, which contained a list of supposed bishop-approved senatorial candidates, called Team Buhay, and a list of supposedly undesirable candidates, called Team Patay.

The list is based on a candidate’s stand regarding the reproductive health law. Under the Team Patay roster are those who supported the passage of the law while Team Buhay is the list of candidates said to be pro-life and who voted against the bill.

The poll body wrote a letter to Navarra asking him to take down the tarpaulins because they violated Comelec rules of the size of election posters.

Navarra accused Comelec of violating the principle of the separation of the church and state, as well as the church’s right to expression.

In its guidelines, the SC said the oral arguments seek to determine whether any of the parties violated the principle of separation of church and state: the Bacolod diocese when it posted the tarpaulins and Comelec when it requested their taking down.

The SC also seeks to determine “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.”

The SC also seeks to decide whether the tarpaulins should be considered a form of expression or a form of election propaganda and political advertisement.

After both camps have presented their arguments, the SC justices would immediately proceed to interoellation.

Last week, Supreme Court Public Information Chief Theodore Te said the public, especially netizens, will get to listen to the oral arguments online.

“We will podcast all oral arguments as much as we can… even the next one on March 19 on the tarps,” Te said. — BM, GMA News

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