OPINION: Full media coverage for Ampatuan decision
MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - 20 media agencies urge “open, live coverage of court ruling on the Ampatuan massacre cases”, as the day nears when the decision on the Ampatuan massacre case would be handed down.
As the day nears when the decision on the Ampatuan massacre case would be handed down (Dec. 19), and as Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) nears, 20 media agencies urge “open, live coverage of court ruling on the Ampatuan massacre cases.”
The petition of an all-media livestream and open coverage of the promulgation of judgment was filed last Tuesday before the Supreme Court by major print, television, radio and online news agencies.
The Ampatuan massacre is described as “the single-day deadliest attack on the media across the world (that) claimed the lives of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers, on Nov. 23, 2009.”
The petition stressed that over the last 10 years, the 58 victims’ next of kin could follow the trial only via post-hearing reports and broadcast by media. Live coverage would allow families unable to travel to Manila to hear the decision on the 58 counts of murder by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, presiding judge, Branch 221 of the regional trial court of Quezon City. Here is the petition addressed to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Diosdado Peralta:
“The resolution of the multiple murder case against the perpetrators of the killing of 58 persons on Nov. 23, 2009 has long been awaited by the families of the victims, the media, and the public. The Ampatuan Massacre trial has spanned for over a decade now and has been considered as a litmus test of the Philippine democratic and judicial systems.
“Due to its undeniable public importance, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR), and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) respectfully request the Supreme Court to allow journalists and media organizations to conduct live coverage and streaming of the Dec. 19, 2019 promulgation of the decision on the Ampatuan Massacre. The undersigned organizations also ask the Honorable Court to designate a specific area within the courtroom as a media area/gallery for the reporters and cameramen to stay during the promulgation.
“This letter-request is being filed with the support of individual journalists and media workers, as well as news outfits and associations. Attached is a list of supporting individuals and organizations. The undersigned organizations and supporting individuals/outfits/associations have been monitoring the trial since it began on Jan. 5, 2010 and have been supporting families of the 32 journalists and media workers killed that fateful day of Nov. 23, 2009.
“The live coverage/streaming of the promulgation would allow the families and relatives of the 58 victims who may not be able to attend the promulgation in Metro Manila to hear live the reading of the court’s decision on the killing of their relatives. The families of the victims are mostly based in General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao. Not every family member has the capacity to fly to Manila.
“The trial of the Ampatuan Massacre has been followed by the families mostly through after-hearing reports and off-court broadcasts in the past years. It is now their hope that they be allowed to hear the decision simultaneously as it is read in court. The promulgation is the culmination of their fight for justice at the lower court.
“The live coverage/streaming would also allow the public to hear firsthand how the lower court would decide on the matter. It would boost the public’s trust on transparency and accountability of court processes, particularly in how fair and just the case has been decided.
“Lastly, the live coverage/streaming would not be prejudicial to any rights of the accused. The promulgation, as described in the Rules of Court, merely pertains to the reading of the judge’s decision. Covering/streaming the reading of a decision live would have no effect on the substantive matters. These matters would have already been decided by the court at the time of the promulgation and no longer under judicial considerations.
“The NUJP, CMFR, PCIJ and our allies in the media look forward to a favorable action on our request for live coverage/streaming of the promulgation.”
I join this petition and say, Filipinos should watch the earth-shaking decision on the bloodcurdling crime that rocked the nation.