Category: ampatuan trials

televise the trial 2

the supreme court giveth, the supreme court taketh away.

june 14, 2011 the corona supreme court allowed live televised coverage of the Ampatuan multiple murder trial, bowing to the clamor for transparency and the public’s right to know.

october 23, 2012.  the sereno supreme court prohibits the live media broadcast of the Maguindanao massacre trial, bowing to the ampatuans’ rights to due process, equal protection, presumption of innocence, and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment.

i blogged about this in nov 2010, a whole year after the maguindanao massacre.   my beef then, as now, was, is, why the rights of the accused — in an open-and-shut case like this one — should be paramount to the rights of the victims and the public’s right to know.

the law is biased enough in favor of the accused.  back in the ’90s i remember hearing the late quezon city regional trial court judge maximiano asuncion (branch 104) on tv saying that under our laws napakaraming karapatan ng akusado at iilan ang karapatan ng biktima o ng pamilyang naiwan ng biktima.  to be sure, i googled it, and the issue turns out to be a very current one in the international arena, and there are continuing attempts to balance the rights of victims with the rights of the accused.  check this out, and this.

of course the flip-flop only means another chain of motions for reconsideration atbp. which means a new round of delays, all in favor of the accused.  and of course one wonders about the sereno supreme court.  is this a show of judicial independence — that the president favors a televised trial does not count — or is this the beginning of a series of reversals, an augury of things to come?

televise the trial

In spite of the fact that the Maguindanao Massacre is an open-and-shut case, with the guilt of the accused very clear, justice for the victims and their families is still far off.

Can’t P-Noy’s administration and the Supreme Court make the wheel of justice move faster? Why is it much faster in other countries but very slow in ours? It is this slow justice that encourages crime in the Philippines. Even if a criminal is caught, it takes the government many years to send him to jail. In the meantime, he is able to continue committing more crimes, kill, buy or threaten witnesses against him, or bribe even judges and justices and therefore escape justice.

Why conduct only two hearings a week for the Ampatuans? And why only two witnesses per hearing? The Maguindanao Massacre is the most cold-blooded mass murder in the history of the Philippines and it shocked the whole world. It should not be treated so cavalierly like most petty crimes. What is wrong with holding daily hearings with no limit to the number of witnesses to be presented daily? What is wrong with holding hearings the whole day? The other cases of the court trying the Maguindanao Massacre can be transferred to other courts. What’s wrong with that?

Too bad capital punishment has been abolished in the Philippines, thanks to the bleeding hearts. If there is anybody deserving of execution, it is those who were responsible for the Maguindanao Massacre.

i agree with neal cruz.   besides, the law is biased enough in favor of the accused.   back in the ’90s i remember hearing the late quezon city regional trial court judge maximiano asuncion (branch 104) on tv saying that under our laws napakaraming karapatan ng akusado at iilan ang karapatan ng biktima o ng pamilyang naiwan ng biktima. to be sure, i googled it, and the issue turns out to be a very current one in the international arena, and there are continuing attempts to balance the rights of victims with the rights of the accused.   check this out, and this, and this.

of course there is dissent. belinda olivares cunanan, once of the inquirer, now of the the blog political tidbits, is one of many who are against media coverage:

First, the print media are already doing extensive  coverage of the trial. Second, live coverage could exacerbate the already super-high nationwide tensions over the mass murders, sapping the national energies further and making independent judgment impossible for a judge already boxed into an extremely difficult position when she accepted the Ampatuan case. Moreover, as De Lima correctly noted, live coverage could violate the court’s rule prohibiting the witnesses from hearing the testimony of their fellow witnesses.

first, the print media, due to space limitations, never quite capture and report all of the proceedings; neither do broadcast media, due to time limitations.   second, the slooooow pace is already “exacerbating the already super-high nationwide tensions over the mass murders.”   let’s not worry about judge jocelyn solis-reyes — she’s doing a good job off-cam, i expect she’ll do a good job on-cam.   as for witnesses being influenced by the testimony of other witnesses, surely each one has executed an affidavit beforehand, and testimony beyond such would not get past defense lawyers who would be very vigilant about calling public attention to anything like that.   and, finally, a televised trial would not sap national energies, rather, a televised trial would ease the tensions generated by the 53 victims’ families’ woes exacerbated by the supreme court’s seeming indifference to their very valid grievances.

as for those who are afraid that televised hearings might prove a diversion (distracting from the aquino admin’s serial flops, flaps, flip-flops?) or even as a means of entertainment, i suppose they’re coming from lessons learned in erap’s impeachment trial that led to edsa dos.   but there was a lot that was laughable about that proceeding, which cannot be said of the ampatuan trial that is seeking justice for the 58 lives violently ended, massacred in one sweep, by a private army in broad daylight.

Sen. Joker Arroyo has warned that with almost 200 defendants and 300 witnesses it could take 200 years for justice to be meted out to both the perpetrators and victims of the Maguindanao massacre. If it should take long to prosecute the case, let it go the whole route. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall. But surely something can be done to speed things up. Probably the number of witnesses can be limited to the most important ones and marathon hearings can be held. Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Trial Court Branch 221 could also be relieved of her other cases so she can focus on the massacre trial.

The Maguindanao massacre trial should be no less important than the Estrada case, in which the fortune of one man was involved. Here the meting out of justice to 57 victims and 200 defendants is involved. The people also should know how a political Frankenstein’s monster was pampered and allowed to grow by a Machiavellian president to the point that they thought they would perpetually escape the clutches of justice. Televise the trial and let the people know.

yes, and hold daily hearings, eight hours a day, five days a week.   justice delayed is justice denied.

Slow wheels of justice encourage crimes
Balancing rights of the accused with the rights of the victim
Victims’ rights and the rights of the accused
Victims’ rights
Live trial coverage will exacerbate tensions
Ampatuan Watch: Elusive justice
Trials are not entertainment
Television and the Ampatuan trial
Televised trial
Former chief justice backs live feed for Ampatuan trial
Televise the trial

hearsay not good enough

Court should allow live coverage of Ampatuan trial
Neal Cruz

Why is live coverage by the media of the Ampatuan trial being prohibited? Isn’t that a denial of the public’s right to information? I understand that the judge wants to avoid the circus atmosphere that sometimes descends on an event when competing television networks jockey for vantage points. But that can easily be avoided by assigning one or two pool cameras and limiting them to a small part of the courtroom and then sharing the footage with the other networks. The same goes for print reporters. For the public, closed-circuit cameras can broadcast the trial to TV sets outside.

The alternative is to deny the people the right to view a very important trial. What is being tried here is not a sex crime or a family quarrel where intimate details are dredged up by the lawyers. It is a heinous crime. The accused will not be denied their right to a fair trial. The people have the right to be informed how justice is done, so that they will learn, once more, that crime does not pay.

If the trial is closed to live coverage, people will start suspecting that some hanky-panky is going on, especially because the Ampatuan family is a close ally of the President. So whatever the decision will be, people will suspect that some horsetrading went on.

i so agree.   besides, the accounts of the media personnel privileged to witness the proceedings are just not good enough.   siyempre kulang-kulang sa details.   and you wonder how accurate the quickie summaries are.   nothing beats watching and hearing the proceedings, questions and testimonies, first-hand, in real time, via audio-video recordings.   anything else is hearsay.

Open Ampatuan trial to live coverage,
media and lawyers urge

John Alliage Tinio Morales

MANILA, Philippines – Media and lawyers’ groups on Monday appealed to Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to allow live coverage of the trial of the Ampatuan massacre case.

… At the launching of the People’s Task Force on Maguindanao, Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they are writing a formal letter to Reyes Tuesday, a day before the second hearing into the petition for bail filed by Ampatuan.

She said Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez had advised the NUJP to write a letter to Solis instead of filing a formal motion.

…Roan Libarios, governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said: “We are in support of the request of the NUJP and other media organizations to be allowed access to the court proceedings, subject to some safety nets.”

…At the press conference sponsored by the task force, a reporter from ABS-CBN said the news network had already sent a formal letter to Solis asking for her permission to grant the taking of video footage during the hearing for the petition for bail. But the reporter said Solis denied the request in just a matter of “five minutes.”

Should the judge deny the request made by the NUJP, Paraan said that the group would definitely file a formal motion for the scheduled third hearing on January 20.

Thomas Prado, national secretary of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, advised the NUJP that its formal letter should be “attached to a formal motion.”

Should Judge Solis again deny the motion for live coverage, Prado said, “I think there is a way to bring it up to the Supreme Court.”

Even the Supreme Court has long settled in its jurisprudence that fears over trial by publicity would not influence the decision of the court of justice, private prosecutor Harry Roque said.

He cited a Supreme Court ruling on the request of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines for the live radio-TV coverage of the plunder trial against deposed president Joseph Estrada in 2001.

In that decision, the Supreme Court laid three reasons for the televised recording of public events: First, the hearings are of historic significance; second, cases involve matters of vital concern to the people who have a fundamental right to know how their government is conducted; and third, the audio-visual presentation is essential for the education and civic training of the people.

The high tribunalsaid that the live recording of public events is, above all, for “documentary purposes.”

The high court said the recording could be useful in preserving the essence of the proceeding in a way print cannot quite do. It added that the recording could be used by appellate courts in the event of a review.

In the ruling, the magistrates clearly laid out conditions for live media coverage, including the recording of the trial in its entirety, installation of cameras in inconspicuous places, reason of documentary purposes, and the court supervision of the recording.

JV Bautista, former party-list representative and IBP member, said that in theory, trials must always be made public, as long as the media “do not turn the hearing into a circus.”

Quoting US court decisions and academic studies, Roquesaid that the live coverage of public events would compel “everyone included in the hearing to be at their best.”

Prado added that the public could scrutinize the competence of the public prosecutors in the performance of their duties, especially so that “we have rusty public prosecutors.” On the part of the defense, the public can see judge whether the accused is lying or not.

no live coverage of ampatuan trial :(

Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Midas Marquez said that only 30 accredited media, close relatives and counsels of complainants and defendants would be allowed inside the court room.

“I am asking for everyone’s cooperation. We are doing this for everyone’s sake, we’re not doing this for us, we’re doing this for everyone’s sake: for the accused to have a fair trial and for media to be able to access the hearing. So let us please coordinate and cooperate with one another,” Marquez said in a press conference.

Security will be tight inside the court room as well.

Media would have to pass through three “stations” for security check and proper verification of identification. Only one reporter from each media outfit is allowed inside the court room. No cellular phones, recorders, and other devices are allowed inside the court room, Marquez said.

in a tv newscast i heard marquez saying it was to “avoid trial by publicity”; in an interview by pia hontiveros that i caught the tail of, he was saying it was to avoid a situation like joseph estrada’s impeachment trial that saw people taking to the streets, or something to that effect.

but but but senator rodolfo biazon is right to ask for full media coverage:

“The PNP (Philippine National Police) and the government must give full transparency,” Biazon said. “The executive department must provide transparency to eliminate any doubts, to disprove (speculations) that the Ampatuans are supported by the military and the government.”

“Halimbawa, dapat makita itong trial,yung court hearing na naka schedule na gawin sa Camp Crame. Talagang special na mga nilalang ang mga Ampatuans dahil talagang naghanda pa ng court para sa kanila (For example, this court hearing in Camp Crame must be made public. The Ampatuansare really special because a court has been prepared especially for them),” Biazon pointed out.

hmm.   i wonder if ampatuan’s lawyers have anything to do with this supreme court directive.   suddenly i’m remembering what alex magno said about andal jr.’s very matinik lawyers:

We know now the Ampatuans have hired the best lawyers money could buy — and I have phrased that as carefully as I can.

Those lawyers will throw in every rule in the book, find every loophole in the law and develop every excuse to invalidate evidence. They will fight tooth-and-nail, if not to clear their clients, make it impossible to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

…A judicial ruling, after all, is shaped by the give-and-take of the trial proceedings — not by the strength of conviction in the public mind about the guilt or innocence of the accused.

yeah, this is one of those times when “due process” works in favor of the accused, sorry na lang ang mga biktima.   let’s hope that prosecution witnesses stand firm in their face-off with the notoriously crafty sigmund sigfrid fortun.   too too bad we’re not going to see any of it :-(