‘Journalists not barred from covering massacre trial’

First published in The Philippine Star, 13 November 2014

The Quezon City judge handling the Maguindanao massacre trial yesterday said journalists are not barred from covering the court proceedings at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 told The STAR that the court proceedings have always been open to the public.

She made the clarification after police and jail officials banned journalists from attending the massacre trial.

Solis-Reyes said the court has not changed its rules when it comes to media coverage, adding that journalists are allowed to attend the hearings provided that they only take notes using pen and paper.

She said only the live broadcast of the trial is prohibited based on a 2012 Supreme Court (SC) ruling. Read more of this post

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Backhoe operator tags Bedol in bribe try

First published in The Philippine Star, 4 November 2014

The backhoe operator who allegedly dug the graves of the victims in the Maguindanao massacre has accused former election supervisor Lintang Bedol of attempting to bribe him to alter his testimony.

Suspect Bong Andal, in a 47-page judicial affidavit obtained by The STAR, said Bedol – a former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor – approached him last June in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame, where they are both detained.

Andal is charged with multiple murder in connection with massacre, while Bedol is facing charges for allegedly rigging the results of the 2007 midterm elections in Maguindanao.

According to Andal, Bedol asked him if he will accept P300,000 in exchange for not identifying a certain “RG” as among those involved in the Maguindanao massacre.

“You will just refuse to identify him and then you will earn money,” Bedol allegedly told Andal, who said he refused the offer because he does not want to sacrifice his family.

When he asked who will give him the money, Bedol supposedly told him that the money will come from him.

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Malacañang public petition page coming soon

First published in The Philippine Star, 2 November 2014

The government is planning to establish an online petition platform similar to the White House petition page of the US government.

In line with its efforts to expand and improve the government’s feedback mechanism, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office will put up an online platform for petitions on the gov.ph website, PCDSPO said.

“Users will be able to log in and post petitions, which will then be open for e-signatures from the public. When a certain signature count is reached, an official response will be posted,” it said.

The PCDSPO said discussions on the design and features of the platform have been made.

The communications group has opened a webpage http://bit.ly/1qcE0wO where the public can provide constructive insights until Nov. 15.

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