MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court is torn between allowing live coverage or not of the release of the landmark decision on the Maguindanao Massacre on December 19, 2019.
The answer to that question will be known today as the SC decides with finality today Tuesday, 10 December 2019, whether or not allow the live coverage of the release of the decision in the Maguindanao massacre case.
According to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, the judge who handles the case, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, did not ask for extra security and she accordingly has “nothing to fear.”
Last November 23, 2019, marked the 10th year anniversary of the gruesome Maguindanao or Ampatuan massacre, which left 58 people dead, including 32 media workers, some civilians, and some members of the Mangudadatu family — a rival political family of the Ampatuans.
It was on that fateful day that relatives of then-Maguindanao gubernatorial bet Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, accompanied by a convoy of journalists, were on their way to file his candidacy for the 2010 elections when they were attacked by gunmen, allegedly from the Ampatuan family.
The Maguindanao Massacre came to be known as “the world’s deadliest single attack against media workers, and the worst case of election-related violence in the Philippines.”
Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. is the primary suspect in the case. He was mayor of Datu Unsay town when he and his family’s private armed group allegedly shot and decapitated the victims’ bodies with chainsaws.
Only 116 of the 197 original suspects facing multiple murder charges over have been arrested. Of this number, 107 were put on trial while five were dismissed. These include Ampatuan’s brother, former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan. Their father, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., was also a primary suspect before he died in 2015 due to complications from liver cancer.
Last week, the court judge accepted Ampatuan Jr.’s memorandum to the case despite being filed months after trial ended, which wraps up the facts of the case and arguments raised during the trial. Solis-Reyes still decided to accept the document as part of the case records “in the higher interest of justice.”
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it welcomes the looming decision on the case.
“We expect nothing less than a conviction, especially [for] those directly responsible and involved in the killings. Otherwise, the mockery of justice and the culture of impunity will continue to reign and worsen,” the group said. (IAMIGO/CNS)