BJMP, court ban media coverage of Ampatuan trial

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The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) expresses its concern over the prohibition of media coverage in the hearing of Ampatuan Massacre case at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City last September 18.

Reporters from different media and news organizations were barred from entering the premises of Camp Bagong Diwa where a makeshift courtroom for the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is located.

“The campus press is alarmed by this, although this is not the first time that the media were prohibited to cover the court proceedings. How can the public know the events transpired in the courtroom if the media were not allowed to get inside and document the proceedings? Is there something to be hidden from the public? The public has the right to know, even the international community is watching,” said Marc Lino Abila, CEGP National President.

The BJMP public information office said that the courtroom was full and cannot accommodate the media. While QCRTC said that they decided to restrict the entry of media in the courtroom as the defense presented its first witness, the 17-year-old daughter of former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

“We understand that the court wants to protect the minor, but it’s not a reason to ban journalists to cover the developments of the trial. They are denying the truth to the public. I believe that journalists and reporters are well aware of the rights of women and children, especially in sensitive cases like this,” Abila said.

“We are calling the QCRTC, BJMP and National Capital Region Police Office to let the media cover the proceedings of the Ampatuan Massacre case as the decision to ban them from the courtroom undermines freedom of the press and the public’s right to information,” Abila ended.###

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