SC flip-flops: No more Ampatuan trial live broadcast

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The Supreme Court on Monday, November 12, reversed its earlier decision on allowing live media coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial citing breach of rights of the accused.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court reversed its earlier decision on allowing live media coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial, citing breach of rights of the accused.

The SC decision, dated October 23, 2012 and released Monday, November 12, was due to a motion for reconsideration filed by Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the main suspects in the case that involved the gruesome killing of about 58 in Mindanao.

“A camera that broadcasts the proceedings live on television has no place in a criminal trial because of its prejudicial effects on the rights of the accused individuals,” the court said in its resolution.

The decision will also help protect the judge and the witnesses from outside influences during the trial proper, the court added.

Ampatuan’s motions stated that a public trial will be a breach of his rights to equal protection and presumption of innocence. His camp also argued that it will deprive him of his right to due process, and will have a “degrading” psychological effect on him.

The resolution stated that the instead of a live broadcast of the trial, media can still monitor the proceedings via closed-circuit television. This will also be the method of viewing for some trial courts in Maguindanao and the cities of Koronadal and General Santos, to help relatives of the victims and of the accused monitor the case.

Supreme Court resolution on the live media coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial

This reversed the June 14, 2011 decision by the court to allow live coverage of the trial.

The earlier decision allowed live broadcast of the high-profile trial, on the condition that there will be no voice-overs or annotations of the trial proper; the prohibition of replaying any part of the trial, except on finality of judgment; and that the broadcast be uninterrupted.

Malacañang, which supports the live broadcast of the trial, said they are still hoping that the SC revisits the decision.

“I hope that they can revisit their decision—even their decision not to cover it live,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.

” I don’t know what prompted them to revisit or to change their minds on the live coverage of Maguindanao massacre. But that is the litmus test of the judiciary and it is important for us—both the public and media—to be able to know what’s going on in the Maguindanao massacre trial,” he said. –

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