Court Changes Mind, Bars Real-Time Media Airing Of Maguindanao Massacre Trial
Manila, Philippines --- The Supreme Court (SC) has barred the live coverage of the trial of the 2009 "Maguindanao Massacre'' case where 58 people including 32 media practitioners were killed.
In a notice sent to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 recently, the high court said it revised its Oct. 23 resolution that set guidelines for the live TV and radio coverage of the trial.
"Upon reconsideration, and after weighing once more the rights guaranteed by the Constitution that are involved in the case, this Court partially grants reconsideration of the June 14, 2011 Resolution," the notice signed by Supreme Court clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal said.
"This court is now disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial of the ‘Maguindanao Massacre' cases but is still allowing the filming of the proceedings for (1) real-time transmissions to specified viewing areas, and (2) documentation," the notice said.
The notice said "while the Court recognizes the freedom of the press and the right to public information, which, by the way, are rights that belong to non-direct parties to the case, the rights of the direct parties should not be forgotten."
"In a clash among these competing interests and in terms of the values the Constitution recognizes, jurisprudence makes it clear that the balance should always be weighed in favor of the accused," it said.
The High Court decided to partially grant the motion for reconsideration filed by accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. who said that the earlier resolution "deprives him of his right to due process, equal protection, presumption of innocence and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment."
Ampatuan was referring to the earlier resolution that allowed live coverage of the trial subject to the guidelines set by the court.
In the notice, the High Tribunal also released a new set of guidelines concerning the audio-video recording "made both for documentary purposes and for transmission to specified closed-circuit viewing areas."
"The viewing area will be installed to accommodate the public who want to observe the proceedings within the Camp Bagong Diwa premises. The streaming of the video coverage within the different court premises in Mindanao will be installed so that the relatives of the parties and the interested public can watch the proceedings in real time," the notice said.
"In all cases, the witnesses should be excluded from watching the proceedings, whether inside the courtroom or in designated viewing areas," it added.--Courtesy of Manila Bulletin