SC urged to reconsider massacre trial broadcast

Posted at 12/06/12 10:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court should reconsider its decision to bar the live coverage and airing of the Ampatuan massacre trial, media groups said Thursday.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, ABS-CBN, BusinessWorld, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), GMA-7, Manila Times, Philippine National Police Press Corps and TV5 filed a petition at the high court urging it to reconsider an earlier resolution.

In the petition, the Supreme Court was also urged to to sit down with media groups and journalists to draft guidelines for live media coverage similar to what was agreed in June 2011.

The high tribunal's October 23, 2012 resolution granted a motion filed by primary accused Andal Ampatuan Jr., who argued that his rights should be primary over the public's right to know.

In the resolution, the Supreme Court directed the filming of the proceedings using closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage that will be transmitted real-time to viewing areas in courts nearest to families of the massacre victims.

The petitioners argued that contrary to what SC said in its resolution, "the right of an accused to fair trial is not incompatible to right to free press," and widespread publicity through live media coverage therefore does not violate the right of accused to a fair trial.

Petitioners also called the SC directive to install CCTV footage in place of live broadcast an "unsatisfactory compromise."

It "delimits the viewing possibilities to those who have the time and opportunity to go to the designated courts where CCTVs have been placed," and could disenfranchise the public, they said.