Condemnation statement against Hanjin Safety Officer

NUJP- We, the members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Olongapo City and Subic Chapter, express our sympathy and solidarity with GMA News.tv correspondent John Bayarong who was treated outrageously by a safety officer of Hanjin Heavy Industries Co, Philippines while performing his constitutionally mandated duty of reporting the news.

As Bayarong relates, and colleagues who witnessed the incident corroborate, Hanjin safety officer Ponciano Ogalesco Jr. uttered obscenities when Bayarong was interviewing him for Hanjin’s reaction to the notice of violation issued by the SBMA against the Korean company.

Bayarong was then preparing a follow-up story on the recent death of two Hanjin workers, which, according to SBMA investigation, may have been precipitated by “safety lapses” in the Hanjin shipyard. It is clearly in the public interest that this issue be reported accurately and honestly by media practitioners. It is also the obligation of a journalist to be fair to the subjects identified in his/her report — giving all involved in a contentious issue an equal opportunity to air their sides in the matter, hence, Bayarong’s call to Hanjin.

Ogalesco’s reaction to Bayarong’s queries, however, negates and precludes a healthy exchange of information and the ventilation of issues crucial to the community. And just as reprehensible is the underlying culture of arrogance and cover-up that appears to be pervasive among key personnel of this foreign company being hosted by the Subic community.

As this is a serious issue — and one literally lethal to Hanjin employees and their families who continue to be wronged by company cover-up — then coverage of this issue should not abate, and instead should even intensify.

Ogalesco’s aggression, we believe, was simply a facade to discourage the reporting of truth. But the truth about Hanjin should see the light so that all the inequities wrought by this company and its officials may be set right.

 

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