SC to tackle plea for live coverage of Maguindanao massacre judgment day

    88

    THE Supreme Court will discuss during its en banc session the request of various media groups seeking live coverage of the promulgation of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case scheduled on December 19.

    Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and SC Public Information Office chief Brian Keith Hosaka have submitted their recommendations to the en banc.

    “We are also concerned about your concern which is to attend (the promulgation) so let’s wait tomorrow. As to whether or not the media will be accommodated inside or outside of the courtroom, that will be taken up tomorrow,” Peralta told reporters in an ambush interview after the launching of the Judiciary Public Assistance Section at the SC.

    The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) asked the SC last week to allow live coverage and streaming of the promulgation of the controversial case at the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

    The petitioners cited the “undeniable public importance” of the case in their plea which they said is now considered as “a litmus test” of the Philippine democratic and judicial system.

    The NUJP, CMFR and PCIJ were joined in the petition by several media organizations and media personalities.

    The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) also made a similar request to the SC to allow government media agencies to cover the promulgation of the case in which 58 victims were killed, including 32 print and broadcast journalists by gunmen allegedly upon orders of members of the influential Ampatuan clan.

    Peralta clapped the back of Solis-Reyes and said she did her job well in handling the controversial case involving members of the politically-influential Ampatuan family.

    “She has been doing her job very well. She gave all the accused due process under the Constitution. She was my former student,” Peralta said of the 59-year old judge.

    “She is doing well. She does not hesitate to read her books and ask for her peers for advice,” he added.

    Peralta said Solis-Reyes did not ask the SC for additional security and did not report any threats to her life.

    “We are always after the security of the judge. If they need security then we will provide them,” he said, the judge has “nothing to fear” because she gave all the accused a fair trial.

    Last week, National Capital Region Police Office Chief Debold Sinas ordered tighter security for Solis-Reyes and her family ahead of the promulgation of the case.

    Sinas said the same security set-up will also be set up for the state prosecutors and lawyers handling the case.

    Solis-Reyes was assigned to handle the case by lottery draw in December 2009 after the previously selected judge, Luisito Cortez, declined the case on security grounds.

    She initially refused security when assigned to the case but was latter assigned police protection.