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RE: PETITION FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION COVERAGE OF support of those who have petitioned this Court to permit

THE MULTIPLE MURDER CASES AGAINST MAGUINDANAO television and radio broadcast of the trial." The Court
GOVERNOR ZALDY AMPATUAN, ET AL., docketed the matter as A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC.
June 14, 2011 A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC By separate Resolutions of November 23, 2010, the Court
FACTS: consolidated A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC with A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC.
On November 23, 2009, 57 people including 32 journalists and Petitioners state that the trial of the Maguindanao Massacre
media practitioners were killed on their way to ShariffAguak in cases has attracted intense media coverage due to the
Maguindanao. This tragic incident came to be known as gruesomeness of the crime, prominence of the accused, and
Maguindanao massacre´ spawned charges for 57 counts of the number of media personnel killed. They inform that
murder and additional charges of rebellion against 197 reporters are being frisked and searched for cameras,
accused, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q- recorders, and cellular devices upon entry, and that under
09-162216-31, Q-10-162652-66, and Q-10-163766, commonly strict orders of the trial court against live broadcast coverage,
entitled People v. DatuAndalAmpatuan, Jr., et al. Following the number of media practitioners allowed inside the
the transfer of venue and the reraffling of the cases, the cases courtroom has been limited to one reporter for each media
are being tried by Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of institution.
Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City. Hence, the present petitions which assert the exercise of right
Almost a year later on November 19 2010, the National Union to a fair and public trial and the lifting of the absolute ban on
of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), ABS-CBN Broadcasting live television and radio coverage of court proceedings. They
Corporation, GMA Network Inc., relatives of the victims, principally urge the Court to revisit the 1991 ruling in Re: Live
individual journalists from various media entities and TV and Radio Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C.
members of the academe filed a petition before this court Aquinos Libel Case and the 2001 ruling in Re: Request Radio-
praying that live television and radio coverage of the trial in TV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan of the Plunder
this criminal cases be allowed, recording devises be permitted Cases Against the Former President Joseph E. Estrada which
inside the court room to assist the working journalists, and rulings, they contend, violate the doctrine that proposed
reasonable guidelines be formulated to govern the broadcast restrictions on constitutional rights are to be narrowly
coverage and the use of devices. The Court docketed the construed and outright prohibition cannot stand when
petition as A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC. regulation is a viable alternative.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, by letter of November 22, ISSUE:
2010 addressed to Chief Justice Renato Corona, came out in
Whether or not the petition for radio and television coverage enough facilities for a reasonable number of the public to
of the Maguindanao Massacre should be allowed observe the proceedings, not too small as to render the
HELD: openness negligible and not too large as to distract the trial
The Court partially GRANTS pro hac vice petitioners’ prayer for participants from their proper functions, who shall then be
a live broadcast of the trial court proceedings, subject to totally free to report what they have observed during the
guidelines. proceedings.
Respecting the possible influence of media coverage on the Compliance with regulations, not curtailment of a right,
impartiality of trial court judges, petitioners correctly explain provides a workable solution to the concerns raised in these
that prejudicial publicity insofar as it undermines the right to a administrative matters, while, at the same time, maintaining
fair trial must pass the totality of circumstances test, applied the same underlying principles upheld in the two previous
in People v. Teehankee, Jr. and Estrada v. Desierto, that the cases.
right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free The basic principle upheld in Aquino is firm ─ [a] trial of any
press, that pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the kind or in any court is a matter of serious importance to all
right of an accused to a fair trial, and that there must be concerned and should not be treated as a means of
allegation and proof of the impaired capacity of a judge to entertainment, and to so treat it deprives the court of the
render a bias-free decision. Mere fear of possible undue dignity which pertains to it and departs from the orderly and
influence is not tantamount to actual prejudice resulting in the serious quest for truth for which our judicial proceedings are
deprivation of the right to a fair trial. formulated. The observation that massive intrusion of
On public trial, Estrada basically discusses: representatives of the news media into the trial itself can so
An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that alter and destroy the constitutionally necessary atmosphere
belongs to him, more than anyone else, where his life or and decorum stands.
liberty can be held critically in balance. A public trial aims to The Court had another unique opportunity in Estrada to revisit
ensure that he is fairly dealt with and would not be unjustly the question of live radio and television coverage of court
condemned and that his rights are not compromised in proceedings in a criminal case. It held that the propriety of
secrete conclaves of long ago. A public trial is not synonymous granting or denying the instant petition involves the weighing
with publicized trial; it only implies that the court doors must out of the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press
be open to those who wish to come, sit in the available seats, and the right to public information, on the one hand, and the
conduct themselves with decorum and observe the trial fundamental rights of the accused, on the other hand, along
process. In the constitutional sense, a courtroom should have with the constitutional power of a court to control its
proceedings in ensuring a fair and impartial trialIn so allowing not wireless technology, must be unobtrusively located in
pro hac vice the live broadcasting by radio and television of places indicated by the trial court.
the Maguindanao Massacre cases, the Court lays down the The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court
following guidelines toward addressing the concerns Administrator shall coordinate and assist the trial court on the
mentioned in Aquino and Estrada: physical set-up of the camera and equipment.
(a) An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre (d) The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside
cases may be made both for documentary purposes and for the courtroom to the media entities shall be conducted in
transmittal to live radio and television broadcasting. such a way that the least physical disturbance shall be ensured
(b) Media entities must file with the trial court a letter of in keeping with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings
application, manifesting that they intend to broadcast the and the exclusivity of the access to the media entities.
audio-visual recording of the proceedings and that they have The hardware for establishing an interconnection or link with
the necessary technological equipment and technical plan to the camera equipment monitoring the proceedings shall be
carry out the same, with an undertaking that they will for the account of the media entities, which should employ
faithfully comply with the guidelines and regulations and technology that can (i) avoid the cumbersome snaking cables
cover the entire remaining proceedings until promulgation of inside the courtroom, (ii) minimize the unnecessary ingress or
judgment. No selective or partial coverage shall be allowed. egress of technicians, and (iii) preclude undue commotion in
No media entity shall be allowed to broadcast the proceedings case of technical glitches.
without an application duly approved by the trial court. If the premises outside the courtroom lack space for the set-
(c) A single fixed compact camera shall be installed up of the media entities facilities, the media entities shall
inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a single wide- access the audio-visual recording either via wireless
angle full-view of the sala of the trial court. No panning and technology accessible even from outside the court premises or
zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly highlighting or from one common web broadcasting platform from which
downplaying incidents in the proceedings. The camera and the streaming can be accessed or derived to feed the images and
necessary equipment shall be operated and controlled only by sounds. At all times, exclusive access by the media entities to
a duly designated official or employee of the Supreme Court. the real-time audio-visual recording should be protected or
The camera equipment should not produce or beam any encrypted.
distracting sound or light rays. Signal lights or signs showing (e) The broadcasting of the proceedings for a particular day
the equipment is operating should not be visible. A limited must be continuous and in its entirety, excepting such
number of microphones and the least installation of wiring, if portions thereof where Sec. 21 of Rule 119 of the Rules of
Court[27] applies, and where the trial court excludes, upon (i) The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the
motion, prospective witnesses from the courtroom, in National Museum and the Records Management and Archives
instances where, inter alia, there are unresolved identification Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.
issues or there are issues which involve the security of the (j) The audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be
witnesses and the integrity of their testimony (e.g., the made under the supervision and control of the trial court
dovetailing of corroborative testimonies is material, minority which may issue supplementary directives, as the exigency
of the witness). The trial court may, with the consent of the requires, including the suspension or revocation of the grant
parties, order only the pixelization of the image of the witness of application by the media entities.
or mute the audio output, or both. (k) The Court shall create a special committee which shall
(f) To provide a faithful and complete broadcast of the forthwith study, design and recommend appropriate
proceedings, no commercial break or any other gap shall be arrangements, implementing regulations, and administrative
allowed until the days proceedings are adjourned, except matters referred to it by the Court concerning the live
during the period of recess called by the trial court and during broadcast of the proceedings pro hac vice, in accordance with
portions of the proceedings wherein the public is ordered the above-outlined guidelines. The Special Committee shall
excluded. also report and recommend on the feasibility, availability and
(g) To avoid overriding or superimposing the audio output affordability of the latest technology that would meet the
from the on-going proceedings, the proceedings shall be herein requirements.It may conduct consultations with
broadcast without any voice-overs, except brief annotations of resource persons and experts in the field of information and
scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them communication technology.
at the start or at the end of the scene. Any commentary shall (l) All other present directives in the conduct of the
observe the sub judice rule and be subject to the contempt proceedings of the trial court (i.e., prohibition on recording
power of the court; devices such as still cameras, tape recorders; and allowable
(h) No repeat airing of the audio-visual recording shall be number of media practitioners inside the courtroom) shall be
allowed until after the finality of judgment, except brief observed in addition to these guidelines.
footages and still images derived from or cartographic RESOLUTION October 23, 2011
sketches of scenes based on the recording, only for news Petitioners Tiamzon and Legarta take issue on provisos (t), (g),
purposes, which shall likewise observe the sub judice rule and and (h) of the enumerated guidelines in the June 14, 2011
be subject to the contempt power of the court; Resolution and allege that these must be struck down for
being unconstitutional, as they constitute prior restraint on
free expression because they dictate what media can and fundamental right to due process of the accused cannot be
cannot report about the "Maguindanao massacre" trial. afforded after the fact but must be protected at the first
Accused AndalAmpatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan) also filed a Motion instance
for Reconsideration dated June 27, 2011, alleging that the To address the physical impossibility of accommodating the
June 14, 2011 Resolution "deprives him of his rights to due large number of interested parties inside the courtroom in
process, equal protection, presumption of innocence, and to Camp BagongDiwa, it is not necessary to allow the press to
be shielded from degrading psychological punishment." broadcast the proceedings here and abroad, but the Court
This Court partially grants reconsideration of the June 14, may allow the opening of closed-circuit viewing areas outside
2011 Resolution and deny the Partial Motion for the courtroom where those who may be so minded can come
Reconsideration dated June 29, 2011 of petitioners and watch the proceedings. Aside from providing a viewing
EdithaMirandillaTiamzon and Glenna Legarta. The Court is area outside the courtroom in Camp BagongDiwa, closed-
now disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial of the circuit viewing areas can also be opened in selected trial
"Maguindanao massacre" cases but is still allowing the filming courts in Maguindanao, Koronadal, South Cotabato, and
of the proceedings for (1) the real-time transmission to General Santos City where most of the relatives of the accused
specified viewing areas, and (2) documentation. and the victims reside, enabling them to watch the trial
In a constitutional sense, public trial is not synonymous with without having to come to Camp BagongDiwa. These viewing
publicized trial. The right to a public trial belongs to the areas will, at all times, be under the control of the trial court
accused. The requirement of a public trial is satisfied by the judges involved, subject to this Court's supervision.
opportunity of the members of the public and the press to The disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial in
attend the trial and to report what they have observed. The Criminal Case Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q-09-162216-31, Q-1 0-
accused's right to a public trial should not be confused with 162652-66, and Q-10-163766 is subject to the following
the freedom of the press and the public's right to know as a guidelines on audio visual recording and streaming of the
justification for allowing the live broadcast of the trial. The video coverage:
tendency of a high profile case like the subject case to a.An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre
generate undue publicity with its concomitant undesirable cases may be made both for documentary purposes and for
effects weighs heavily against broadcasting the trial. transmittal to specified closed-circuit viewing areas: (i) outside
Moreover, the fact that the accused has legal remedies after the courtroom, within the Camp BagongDiwa 's premises; and
the fact is of no moment, since the damage has been done (ii) selected trial courts in Maguindanao, Koronadal, South
and may be irreparable. It must be pointed out that the Cotabato, and General Santos City where the relatives of the
accused and the victims reside. Said trial courts shall be g. The audio-visual recording of the proceedings and its
identified by the Office of the Court Administrator. These transmittal shall be made under the control of the trial court
viewing areas shall be under the control of trial court judges which may issue supplementary directives, as the exigency
involved, subject to this Court's supervision. requires, subject to this Court
b. The viewing area will be installed to accommodate the h. In all cases, the witnesses should be excluded from
public who want to observe the proceedings within the Camp watching the proceedings, whether inside the courtroom or in
BagongDiwa premises. The streaming of this video coverage the designated viewing areas. The Presiding Judge shall issue
within the different court premises in Mindanao will be the appropriate orders to insure compliance with this directive
installed so that the relatives of the parties and the interested and for the imposition of appropriate sanctions for its
public can watch the proceedings in real time. violation.
c. A single fixed compact camera shall be installed
inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a single wide-
angle full-view of the sala of the trial court. No panning and
zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly highlighting or
downplaying incidents in the proceedings. The camera and the
necessary equipment shall be operated and controlled only by
a duly designated official or employee ofthe Supreme Court.
d. The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside
the courtroom to the closed-circuit viewing areas shall be
conducted in such a way that the least physical disturbance
shall be ensured in keeping with the dignity and solemnity of
the proceedings.
e. The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court
Administrator shall coordinate and assist the trial courts
involved on the physical set-up of the camera and equipment.
f. The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the
National Museum and the Records Management and Archives
Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.