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Bishops welcome massacre trial ruling

Supreme Court decision to allow live coverage wins widespread praise

Bishops welcome massacre trial ruling
Andal Ampatuan Jr., prime suspect in the Maguindanao massacre, is led out of his cell
ucanews.reporters, Manila

June 15, 2011

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Catholic prelates today joined President Benigno Aquino and the families of Maguindanao massacre victims in praising a Supreme Court decision to allow live media coverage of the trial of those alleged to have committed the massacre. Yesterday, the court upheld a petition from journalists, major broadcast networks and the families of the victims, demanding coverage. Auxiliary Bishop Bagaforo of Cotabato said the move would show the government is committed to promoting transparency in the case. “Our suspicions that the process might be lutong macao [a sham] are now gone because we will now see for ourselves how the trial progresses,” said Bishop Bagaforo on Church-run Radio Veritas 846. Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan, head of the Catholic bishops’ conference’s public affairs committee, said “it will help satisfy public curiosity and concerns.” President Aquino praised the court for listening to pleas from around the country. "We thank the Supreme Court for heeding our request and that of many of our countrymen for allowing live coverage of the trial. So we praise the Supreme Court for listening," he said. Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, whose wife and relatives were killed in the massacre, also expressed delight at the decision. “This is a welcome decision. The more eyes that follow the trial the better our fight for justice becomes,” he said. Fifty-eight people – 32 of them journalists – were killed on November 23, 2009 in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao while on their way to register Mangudadatu’s candidacy in gubernatorial elections in 2010. It is considered the worst election-related violence in Philippine history and the single worst mass killing of journalists anywhere in the world. Former Maguindanao governor, Andal Ampatuan senior and his son Andal junior are accused of masterminding the massacre. Almost 200 other defendants are also to go on trial for their alleged role in the killings.
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