The Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the requests by various media organizations to allow live coverage of the Dec. 19 promulgation of a Quezon City court’s decision on the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 where 58 persons—including 32 journalists—were killed.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes earlier set the promulgation for 9 a.m. on Dec. 19 at the Quezon City jail annex in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City, after the Supreme Court granted her request for 30-day extension to resolve the mass murder case.
Court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said the Supreme Court en banc granted the request of various media organizations after it was recommended by the Office of the Court Administrator.
Hosaka said two television cameras of the government-owned PTV4 will be allowed inside the courtroom under the supervision of the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office.
PTV4 is required to allow other media entities to tap into its network for the live broadcast.
One television camera will be focused, in a wide-angle shot, on the judge and the court personnel who will read the decision, he said, while a second camera will be focused, in a wide-angle shot, on the parties to the case and their lawyers.
Due to limited space, only accredited media representatives will be allowed inside the courtroom.
No cellular phones, cameras, audio recorders and other recording gadgets will be allowed. No interviews will be allowed inside the courtroom before, during or after the promulgation of the decision.
The justices also ordered the chief of the Court’s Public Information Office to immediately upload the decision on the Supreme Court website (sc.judiciary.gov.ph).
Investigation showed that the victims were part of a convoy that accompanied the registration of then Buluan town Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu for the 2010 gubernatorial election. Many of those killed were beheaded and their bodies mutilated.
After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Department of Justice filed multiple murder cases against 197 accused led by prominent members of the Ampatuan clan.
Reyes should have resolved the cases on or before Nov. 20, 2019 or 90 days after they were submitted for resolution in August. However, the judge sought a 30-day extension to resolve the cases, a request the Court granted.
Reyes said she requested an extension because of voluminous records involved in the cases—165 volumes of records of proceedings, 65 volumes of transcripts of stenographic notes, and eight volumes of prosecution’s documentary evidence.