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Marites Vitug and The Shadow of Doubt

<p>The hard-hitting journalist and Shadow of Doubt author on the justice system and death threats</p>
by Ronjay Eduvas | Jul 29, 2010
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Did you expect the death threats following the book?
No, I did not expect it. Three days yan of text messages and I only realized they were threats when I reread it. As policy, first rule here is to make it public—it’s the protection journalists. I also went to the police, filed a blotter report, filled all the forms. Mercifully, the death threats stopped.
What prompted you to write the book and reveal the real names of people involved?
Actually, it’s a journalistic instinct to go to places where people don’t go, to places I like to call “dark corners.” Nobody has written a book like this so I decided that I’d do it, maybe to blaze a new trail.

How do you check the credibility of sources?
By corroboration. Say, for example, a source tells me something; I have to check that fact with another source to countercheck it. That is unless the source tells me, “I was there, I saw it, it happened.” Also, if the source’s claim is supported by a paper trail, better.

You were requested to “at least protect the name of the Supreme Court.”
I was never convinced that my book was going to demean the institution in the first place. I talk only of certain people in the institution, and not the institution itself. I keep stressing that this is just about some people who tarnish the name of the Supreme Court. That’s why I stood my ground. This will not destroy the institution.

What do you think is the root problem of our justice system?
There is a weakness in the selection process. It has become very politicized, wherein the appointing power, the President, chooses the officers based on loyalty and not on judicial philosophy or character. That’s how they were able to enter. And then the body that chooses the candidate, they’re very, parang, “men’s club” minded, very insider. They do not thoroughly look at the background. I devoted a long chapter on this because I see it as part of the problem.

What’s your take on Chief Justice Corona’s appointment?
As lay person ha, and not a lawyer, I read the Constitution, I understand English. It’s very plain. The President cannot make appointments during election, 60 days before the election and up to the end of the President’s term. It’s so clear. But the Supreme Court decided to exempt themselves. They said, “No, the President can appoint.” So it is clearly unconstitutional but still the SC decided to rule on it, they made it the law. I feel strongly about it. I know it’s difficult to take a confrontational position here but I think Noynoy Aquino is standing on strong constitutional ground to question the appointment.

What happens then if he refuses to take his oath from the Chief Justice?
I think Noynoy wants to make a statement that he does not agree with the SC’s decision to allow the midnight appointment of a chief justice. It’s symbolic and I agree that a President need not take oath before the chief justice. Although it’s tradition, he can always choose somebody else to conduct it, like a notary public for instance, because it’s not written in the constitution.

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Shadow of Doubt is available at FullyBooked, Bonifacio High Street, Global City


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