Supreme Court OKs live coverage of Ampatuan massacre promulgation
Police investigators look for evidence next to a backhoe after a vehicle and human remains were dug up from a shallow grave in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao in a Nov. 25, 2009 file photo.
AFP, File

Supreme Court OKs live coverage of Ampatuan massacre promulgation

( - December 10, 2019 - 1:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has approved the live coverage of the December 19 promulgation of the verdict in the Ampatuan massacre case.

SC spokesperson Bryan Hosaka said Tuesday the high court granted the requests of several media organizations to allow the live coverage and streaming of the judgment, which will be done at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City on December 19.

Hosaka said the court has imposed certain guidelines, which include allowing only two cameras inside the courtroom, due to “space limitations and security concerns.”

The two cameras allowed inside the courtroom will be manned by state television network PTV-4 under the strict control and supervision by the SC Public Information Office.

PTV-4 is required to allow other media entities to tap into their network for their individual live broadcasts.

One camera will focus on the judge and the person reading the decision, while another camera will be directed at the parties and their counsel. Only wide-angle shots are allowed.

Hosaka added that the decision on the Ampatuan massacre case will be immediately uploaded on the Supreme Court website.

Last week, journalist groups asked the SC to allow live coverage and streaming of the court ruling, which would allow the families of the 58 victims—32 of whom were media workers—to hear live the reading of the decision of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

They also said the live streaming would allow the public to hear firsthand how Reyes would rule on the case and would boost the public’s trust on transparency and accountability of court processes.

Members of the Ampatuan political clan are among the over 100 individuals who were tried for the November 23, 2009 massacre, when relatives of then Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu and a convoy of journalists were stopped and attacked by gunmen. The bodies of the victims were found buried in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province.

Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan—both in jail—are the primary accused in the case. Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan was allowed to post bail in 2015.

Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr. died in July 2015.

In 2011, the Supreme Court allowed the live coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial subject to certain restrictions, which required media outlets to broadcast the court proceedings from start to finish without breaks and barred journalists from providing annotations while the hearing was ongoing.

But in 2012, the high court granted the motion for reconsideration of the Ampatuan camp.

Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. argued that live media coverage would violate his right to due process.

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