MANILA - Several news agencies on Tuesday called for an open and live coverage of the Dec. 19 release of the court verdict on the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case.
Journalists representing different media organizations filed before the Supreme Court a petition for an open coverage of the landmark decision on the Philippines' worst case of election violence.
The release of the verdict against those charged for the massacre, which left 50 people dead, including 32 journalists, will be held at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, a maximum-security police camp in the capital's southern outskirts where some of the suspects are detained.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 has sent notice of the promulgation to parties in the case, including bereaved families.
Officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) submitted the petition.
Other signatories are as follows:
- ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Regina Reyes
- MindaNews editor-in-chief Carolyn Arguillas
- Philippine Press Institute executive director Ariel Sebellino
- Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), represented by Jamela Alindogan
- Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation
- Mindanao Times editor Amelia Cabusao
- Interaksyon and Philstar.com editor Camille Diola
- Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor-in-chief Herbie Gomez
- The Mindanao Cross
- GMA7 vice president for news Grace dela Peña-Reyes
- Radyo ni Juan Network
- Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa
- Vera Files president Ellen Tordesillas
- Philippine Daily Inquirer associate editor Abel Ulanday
- News5 News and Public Affairs Department head Luchi Valdez
- News5 "The Chiefs" program co-anchor Ed Lingao
- Pulitzer Prize awardee Manuel Mogato
- The Manila Standard editor Joyce Pañares
The petition noted that allowing live coverage of the promulgation of the ruling would allow families of the victims to immediately hear the decision given that majority of them are from Mindanao.
Members of the powerful Ampatuan clan are among some 100 people who were tried for multiple murder for the carnage on Nov. 23, 2009, when a convoy was stopped and strafed on a Maguindanao highway. The bodies were buried in a hilltop grave using an excavator.
Among those due for sentencing is primary accused Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., and his brothers Zaldy and Sajid.
Zaldy has been in hospital since October after a stroke while Sajid was allowed to post bail in 2015. The Ampatuan patriarch, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., died in July 2015 after a heart attack and liver complications.
Eighty accused meanwhile remain at large.