Monday, November 12, 2012

De Lima to SC: Not a good move to bar live media broadcast of Maguindanao massacre trial

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima described on Monday as "not a good move" the Supreme Court decision prohibiting live media broadcast of the high-profile Maguindanao massacre trial. In a chance interview with Justice reporters at the Department of Justice in Manila, De Lima said the rights of the accused to a fair trial and due process would not be violated as long as there is "just reporting." "With all due respect to the Supreme Court... I personally feel na that's not a good move [and] not a good development kasi kailangan bantayan ang trial na yan kasi unang-una tumatagal ito. Pangalawa, dahil nga puro powerful ang mga akusado ay parang nakikita nila na ang buong mundo ay nakikita sila," she said. De Lima said instead of totally restricting live television and radio broadcasts of the proceedings, the high court could just impose certain limitations to "safeguard" the rights of the accused, which include among others, members of the powerful Ampatuan clan of Mindanao. De Lima said the purpose of the live broadcast was not only to put the defense under public scrutiny but the prosecutors as well. "Kailangan makita [ang] performance ng mga prosecutor. How are they performing? Are they really being focused about their job?" she said. De Lima stressed the importance of allowing live broadcasts of the trial since not only Filipinos but also the international community is interested in the goings on during the trial. "Kapag nakikitang binabantayan ng media... iyong mga dilatory tactics lalo na iyong galing sa mga abogado ng mga akusado, siguro naman mababawasan or mare-restrict iyong mga ganoon," she said. The prosecution has repeatedly accused the defense of delaying the proceedings over the course of the three-year-old trial, something the defense has likewise repeatedly denied. SC rulings In its original June 14, 2011 ruling, the SC allowed live broadcasts but prohibited media networks from including commercial breaks in their broadcasts. News anchors are also barred from making voice-overs and lengthy annotations. Media companies airing the broadcasts were also required to air the proceedings in its entirety. In an October 23 ruling, the high court modified its June, 2011 ruling and only allowed broadcast of the proceedings only within Camp Bagong Diwa where the accused are detained and where proceedings are held twice a week. The trial would also be aired live in select trial courts in Mindanao where the relatives of the 58 victims live. Other than those places, no other simultaneous live broadcasts can be done of the trial. The court also ordered that only a single camera taking a wide-view shot of the sala would be used, barring zooming or panning. The SC's Public Information Office in June last year tested a livestream of the court proceedings, which garnered at least 200 views at in the middle of the hearing. The livestream was made possible through a webcam installed on the right front side of the court room and offered a wide shot view of the courtroom. — RSJ