SC allows live media coverage of Ampatuan massacre verdict
In a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a live media coverage of the Quezon City regional trial court’s promulgation of judgment in the infamous Ampatuan massacre case where 58 individuals including 32 media workers were killed in cold blood last 2009.
In a press briefing, SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka disclosed that the number of media personnel who will be allowed inside the courtroom will be limited to ensure order and proper decorum.
“This will be a formal and official court proceeding and we want to maintain order,” Hosaka told reporters.
He divulged that only accredited media personnel will be allowed entry into the BJMP compound in Camp Bagong Diwa where the QC Jail Annex is located, on Judgment Day, December 19.
Due to limited space and security concerns, Hosaka also disclosed only two cameras (one camera for the judge and the person reading the decision, and the other one dedicated for parties and lawyers) from the government-operated PTV4 will be allowed inside the courtroom.
The PTV4 cameras will be controlled by the SC Public Information Office where Hosaka is the the current head.
Local and foreign nedia outfits will be allowed to hook up or be linked with PTV4’s coverage, Hosaka added.
Furthernmore, Hosaka said that no cellphones, cameras, audio video recording equipment shall be allowed inside courtroom, except the equipment being used by PTV4 and SCPIO.
Also, Hosaka disclosed that the high court decreed that there shall be no media interviews before and during the promulgation of judgment to maintain peace and order inside the courtroom.
“We are thinking of coming up with an interview area,” he said, adding the SCPIO would come up with the specific media guidelines within the week.
Last week, several media organizations asked Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to allow a live media coverage of the December 19 promulgation of the infamous Ampatuan massacre.
In a letter-request, the media groups led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippine, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism stressed the live media coverage would allow relatives of the victims who may not be able to attend the promulgation to hear and watch the proceedings.
Also, the groups continued that this would also allow the general public to hear and watch how the QC court decides on the single most atrocious media killing in the world.
The groups assured Peralta that the live media coverage would not violate the rights of the accused inasmuch as the promulgation will merely read the judge’s decision.
The Maguindanao massacre (or Ampatuan massacre) claimed the lives of 58 individuals including 32 media workers on November 23, 2009.
Members of the Ampatuan clan are facing criminal charges for allegedly masterminding the cold-blooded killing.
The victims that included the wife of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu were in a convoy to Shariff Aguak town to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for the May 2010 elections.
A group of armed men stopped the convoy, shot them dead and used a backhoe to bury them while they were still onboard the vehicles.
There were a total of 197 accused in the massacre for multiple murders, including prime suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr.
Aside from Andal Ampatuan Jr., others accused of the same charges were his father, the late Andal Ampatuan Sr., and his brothers Zaldy and Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan.