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Chiz says open trial for Maguindanao massacre will test PH wheel of justice

Manila (20 November) -- Senator Chiz Escudero supported calls to open to live media coverage the Maguindanao massacre trial, stressing that this will test if justice is indeed working in this country.

"For me, this case, and all other hearings where public interests lie, should be fully covered and aired live so that our citizens can see proof that justice is working in our country and that we can see what direction it is leading to," Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said he is backing President Noynoy Aquino's appeal to the Supreme Court to allow the live coverage of the ongoing mass murder trial involving the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao.

He said the Chief Executive has all the right to ask the Supreme to reconsider its earlier decision disallowing live coverage of the trial, but added that "it is left solely to the sound discretion of the court to decide whether or not to grant it."

He recalled that there were already precedents where the court had barred open coverage of trials especially in cases where privacy rights were involved. However, the senator said that decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

"We want a live coverage of the Maguindanao trial so that the public can witness how our justice system works," Escudero explained. "Unlike in other countries where they have a jury system, we only have one entity to decide on the case on trial, and that is the judge hearing it. A full coverage will allow for a better public understanding of any decision that will be arrived at by the judge. He doesn't have to justify his decision all the time, whether guilty or not."

Escudero said that while it is the President's wish for the high tribunal to reconsider its previous ruling on the issue, he should not be the one personally asking for it but his concerned officials.

"The President has been taking cudgels for most of his Cabinet members these past few months. I hope his officials will take the cue sometime in the future and hopefully be the ones to give the President deniability and not let him be the one to keep on talking about these things and in the process defending his Cabinet men to the public," he said. (Office of Sen. Chiz Escudero) [top]

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