MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Etta Rosales on Thursday expressed dismay over the Supreme Court (SC) ruling banning the live coverage of the Maguindanao massacre trial.
Rosales said while the CHR respects the high court's decision, the SC should have acknowledged the importance of the case not only to the Philippines but to the international community as well.
"Hayag dapat ang paglilitis. Sana pag-isipan nila ito dahil alam niyo, 96 na ang areastado, 76 ang at-large," Rosales told dzMM.
"Sa ganitong klaseng usapin, napakahalaga na ma-monitor natin, hindi lang [para sa interes ng] publiko ito. Namo-monitor din ito sa international human rights community."
Rosales said it was unfortunate that the SC favored the Ampatuans' appeal at the expense of the victims' family and public's right to know.
"When you talk about human rights, iyung features ng human rights, yung tinatawag na inter-dependence, indivisiblity, interrelatedness, sa application nito, hindi na pwedeng kunin ang isang karapatan at the expense of other karapatan," she said.
The SC on Monday partially granted the motion for reconsideration of accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. who told the high court that a live broadcast coverage of the trial "deprives him of his rights to due process, equal protection, presumption of innocence, and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment."
"While this 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 favour of the accused," the ruling read.
However, a real-time streaming of the trial will still be allowed outside of the court room in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, as well as in Maguindanao, Koronadal, South Cotabato, and General Santos City where the relatives of the accused and victims are based.
The proceedings will also be taped for documentation purposes and the materials will be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office.