Politician attacks broadcaster inside announcer’s booth

Radio broadcaster Roel Sembrano of Radyo Natin Compostela in Compostela Valley province was inside the announcer’s booth when a politician, accompanied by his wife and daughter barged in and attacked Sembrano.

A report sent to the IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office by the NUJP-Davao chapter said Compostela Valley provincial board member Neri Barte, his wife and daughter physically attacked Sembrano last October 24 while he was on air. When Sembrano tried to stop them, Barte reportedly drew out his gun and threatened to kill him.

The report also said Sembrano criticized Neri on air for promising to give away 50 sacks of cement from the provincial government if a candidate for barangay (village) captain that he is supporting will win in the coming election.

In a joint statement (see copy below), NUJP-Davao and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) Davao chapter expressed “shock and disgust over the attack”.

“To attack a broadcaster right inside the announcer’s booth while he is doing his work is the height of brazenness that a government official can do. It only reflects the government official’s disrespect and ignorance of media’s role as watchdog of democracy, a role that should always be protected,” the statement said.

It was signed by CQ Francisco and Roy Geonzon, chairpersons of NUJP-Davao and KBP-Davao, respectively. #

IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office

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JOINT STATEMENT OF THE NUJP-DAVAO CHAPTER AND KBP-DAVAO CHAPTER

October 26, 2007

STOP HARASSING THE PRESS!!!
Statement on the attack of Radio Broadcaster Roel Sembrano
of Radyo Natin Compostela, Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province

We express our shock and disgust over the attack of radio broadcaster Roel Sembrano, who was inside the announcer’s booth, when a politician he criticized on air came in with his wife and daughter and mauled him.
To attack a broadcaster right inside the announcer’s booth while he is doing his work is the height of brazenness that a government official can do. It only reflects the government official’s disrespect and ignorance of media’s role as watchdog of democracy, a role that should always be protected.

Sembrano was in the midst of his radio program, where he criticized Compostela Valley Provincial Board Member Neri Barte for promising to give out 50 sacks of cement from the provincial government if candidate Jaime Blanco for barangay captain will win in the barangay election, when Barte barged in with his wife and daughter and physically attacked him.

When Sembrano tried to stop them, Barte allegedly drew out his gun and threatened to kill him.

For a government official to do this brazen attack and get away with it only shows the kind of democracy we have in the country where journalists are not only paid very low wages but are also getting killed for doing their work.

Sembrano’s attack came Wednesday (October 24), a day before the attempted slay of two radio blocktimers in Digos, Davao del Sur, Marlan Malnegro and Ruben Oliverio who were on a motorcycle from Radyo Ukay when men on motorcycles fired at them and missed.

We call on our colleagues in the print, broadcast and online media to rally behind and fight these latest attempts to harass and suppress the press.

We call on the government to educate both its appointed and elected officials, like Barte, that public interests have to come first before personal interest, and that the people’s right to know has to be protected at all cost.

We call on all our media colleagues to stay united in the face of these harassments and attacks against press freedom.

Carmelito Francisco
Chairperson
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Davao Chapter

Roy Geonzon
Chairperson
Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), Davao Chapter

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