Supreme Court OKs live coverage of Maguindanao massacre ruling

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2019 12:55 PM | Updated as of Dec 10 2019 07:26 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)—The Supreme Court en banc has approved the live coverage of the promulgation of judgment of the Maguindanao massacre scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 19, Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said Tuesday.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Hosaka said only 2 cameras from state television PTV4 will be allowed inside the courtroom with one camera focused on the judge and the court personnel reading the decision, and the other camera on the parties to the case. Both cameras will only show wide-angle shots.

All media organizations, including foreign media agencies, may hook-up to PTV4’s coverage.
Only Supreme Court-accredited media will be allowed inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology compound at Camp Bagong Diwa and they will all stay inside a media room where they will monitor the proceedings from the video provided by PTV4.

No journalists will be allowed inside the courtroom. Cellphones, cameras, and audio-video recording equipment will also be restricted and interviews will not be permitted before, during and after the promulgation. Instead, Hosaka said the Court is looking at providing an interview area.

“Because of security and limitations in space, we will have to limit the number of media personnel who would be allowed inside the courtroom. We would want to ensure orderly proceedings and proper court decorum inside the courtroom,” he said, noting that about 400 persons including the accused, families of victims and their lawyers are expected inside the courtroom.

As for access to the decision, a copy of it will immediately be uploaded to the Supreme Court website.

Hosaka said the final guidelines for the live coverage of the promulgation will be released by the end of this week.

Initial preparations indicate only one team for every news agency accredited by the Supreme Court will be allowed to cover the promulgation while 10 slots will be allotted to members of the foreign press.

Several media outfits and journalists’ groups have sought permission from the Supreme Court to air the release of the decision on the decade-long multiple murder case, considered the worst election-related violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack against journalists in the world.

Fifty-eight persons were killed on Nov. 23, 2009, while they were covering the filing of the certificate of candidacy of then-gubernatorial candidate and now-House Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in Shariff Aguak.

Their convoy was allegedly blocked by more than a hundred armed men led by primary accused Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr. 

Witnesses alleged Unsay himself shot some of the victims and ordered that they be buried in a shallow mass grave in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao while his late father, Andal Ampatuan Sr., allegedly ordered the killing of all the victims.

Among those killed were the wife, 2 sisters, relatives, supporters and lawyers of Mangudadatu, and 32 journalists.

Also awaiting sentence are Datu Unsay’s brothers, former ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, and former Maguindanao OIC Gov. Sajid Ampatuan, who are accused of conspiring and supporting the plot to kill Mangudadatu.

Of the 197 accused, 101 are due for sentencing on Thursday.