The law requires PUBLIC TRIAL, not trial by publicity

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. (Section 14, Article 3, 1987 Constitution)
Knowing the Philippine constitution from cover to cover could probably be left to the law and political science majors, but if there’s one thing that every Filipino citizen should know about the laws that govern our country, it is that everyone has the right to “due process.” (Read more: Sky Quianzon, 2019. “Trial by publicity” is not how the Philippine Constitution works.

Due process and equal protection of the law are the first rights we, as citizens of the Philippines, are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution. But it seems that we all need reminding of this valuable bit of information every once in a while.

Sure enough, such reminder was prompted when broadcast journalist Raffy Tulfo pressured a teacher to revoke her license over the phone for allegedly mistreating one of her students, as per the complaint of the student’s parents.

Fortunately, the Department of Education (DepEd) has already resolved the issue between the teacher and the parents. However, due to the outrage the nationally broadcasted incident caused, many are still talking about the episode where it all unfolded.

The phrases “trial by publicity,” “mob mentality,” “teacher shaming,” “due process,” and even “Tulfo justice” can be read in the threads of opinions that the incident has elicited.

Trial by publicity is basically what Tulfo’s program is all about, where ordinary people come on the show to talk about a legal problem they have in hopes of getting it sorted out faster than if they were to file paperwork at their town hall.

This method has delivered on that aspect for many who have come on Tulfo’s program. However, this approach has now backfired, causing people to see the negative impacts it could have on someone’s life, since “swift justice” typically bypasses what the constitution calls “due process.”

Due process is when a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. This gives the person the right to be heard and be informed of all that being brought to trial entails.

Being called out on a national program like Tulfo’s deprives a person of this constitutional right and subjects him or her to the pressure of agreeing to conditions on the spot — just like what the teacher was forced to do.

Further, without due process, the public witnessing the issue as it unfolds is likely to adopt the mob mentality, which typically leaves people with heightened negative emotions about what they just witnessed. This, in turn, subjects the accused to the collective disapproval of the public.

Such are the realizations that people have been posting on social media, calling the incident a form of “teacher shaming” and even pointing out that the kind of justice that Tulfo promises is not something that our constitution is founded on.

The complaint of the parents was definitely addressed, but at the expense of a teacher losing her job without even being heard, especially when it didn’t need to come to that had the parents informed the proper authorities.

The Tulfo-teacher incident is a good example of why we need to know about the legal requirement of due process as written in our Philippine constitution, especially about our right to be given it — because it could be the difference between being proven innocent and possibly being charged for something you’re not guilty of. (Read more: Sky Quianzon, 2019. “Trial by publicity” is not how the Philippine Constitution works.

Trial by media is a phrase popular in the late 20th century and early 21st century to describe the impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person's reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before, or after, a verdict in a court of law. (

During high-publicity court cases, the media are often accused of provoking an atmosphere of public hysteria akin to a lynch mob which not only makes a fair trial nearly impossible but means that regardless of the result of the trial the accused will not be able to live the rest of their life without intense public scrutiny. Although a recently coined phrase, the idea that popular media can have a strong influence on the legal process goes back certainly to the advent of the printing press and probably much further. This is not including the use of a state controlled press to criminalize political opponents, but in its commonly understood meaning covers all occasions where the reputation of a person has been drastically affected by ostensibly non-political publications. (