Press Release
June 16, 2011

Maguindanao Massacre Trial
Regulated live media coverage unimplementable, anti-enterprise

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said the high court's decision allowing conditional live media coverage of the Maguindao massacre trial could not be smoothly executed, considering the very nature of news business.

"We're glad that they've allowed it but it should be allowed totally," Recto stressed.

He said the conditions set by the Supreme Court would infringe on the TV networks' business side if commercial breaks would be banned during the live coverage.

"You can't interfere with the enterprise side of TV business. You can't stop advertising load, which is the bread and butter of the industry," Recto said.

He stressed without running commentaries from studio guests or experts to convert to layman's perspective the legal fireworks inside the courtroom, "the trial coverage would be like watching a telenovela in Korean subtitles."

"It's unimplementable. It just can't be done," Recto said.

"The TV networks are already doing invaluable public service by beaming the trial to millions of households, the least that they could expect as patriotic dividend is to permit them to do some business while helping the general public to get some sense of what's happening inside the courtroom," Recto, Senate ways and means chair, added.

He said he was joining calls for the Supreme Court to further relax its restrictions on the airing and recording of the important trial.

Aside from barring commercial breaks and commentaries, only an SC-assigned video camera will be used inside the makeshift courtroom at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City while live feed would be distributed to media.

Petitioners have earlier argued that a live coverage would reduce the cost of the victims' kin to view the trials on television instead of spending for fare to physically witness the hearing. Relatives of the 57 people who were summarily executed in Maguindanao due to a political squabble said they already experienced financial constraints just to attend the weekly hearings in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Different media organizations, in their petition, cited freedom of the press, right to information, right to a fair and public trial, right to assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances, right of free access to courts and freedom of association.

A total of 197 suspects, including members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, were charged for the massacre of 57 persons in Maguindanao province on November 23, 2009.

The victims were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu for Maguindanao governor when the convoy was later blocked at a checkpoint manned by local policemen loyal to the Ampatuan clan.

News Latest News Feed