SC to rule on pleas for live media coverage on Ampatuan case

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The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the request of several media groups tomorrow to allow a live media coverage of the December 19 promulgation of judgment on the infamous Ampatuan massacre by the Quezon City regional trial court.

“It’s in the agenda of the en banc (proceeding) tomorrow (Tuesday) . There is already a recommendation from the Office of the Court Administrator and SC Public Information Office but I have to consult the en banc. So you would come to know about the procedure after the en banc tomorrow.”

“There is already a recommendation as to whether or not how many would be accommodated inside or outside (of the courtroom). That would be taken up tomorrow,” Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said in a chance interview.

Last week, several media organizations asked Peralta for 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.

Recently, the QCRTC released an order setting the date of promulgation of the Ampatuan massacre case on December 19 at the QC Jail Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.

The single-page order was signed by Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

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.

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