t: NUJP letter for TF Usig re harrasment of Malaya correspondents

May 24, 2008

Police Director Jefferson Soriano
Task Force Using
Philippine National Police

Dear Director Soriano,

Greetings!

We would like to lodge a formal request with your good office to investigate and take action on the case reported to us by colleagues in Baguio regarding the harassment of Malaya correspondents, Ma. Elena Catajan and Philippine Information Agency’s Mr. Redjie Cawis, by Alfonso Lista, Ifugao town Vice-Mayor Clarence Polig and his cohorts last May 10, 2008.

The vice-mayor was allegedly drunk during an interview and drew guns at the journalists. They have already reported the case to the Philippine National Police in Ifugao. However, as reported, even before a complaint had been filed or an investigation carried out, Cordillera police director Chief Superintendent Eugene Martin has already ruled the two journalists’ account of the incident “exaggerated.”

Vice-mayor also reportedly issued a statement that “if the matter will go public, careers will be destroyed…”

We are also appending the account of the May 10 incident which was forwarded to us by colleagues in Baguio, with interviews of the victims, for your guidance.

We are disturbed by the fact that politicians and their cohorts in the provinces can lord it over isolated communities and create an atmosphere of fear especially among community journalists who are most vulnerable to harassment and threats.

We trust that you will act speedily on this case, both for the sake of Ms. Catajan and Mr. Cawis and the image of the local government unit involved in this incident. Ms. Catajan has also reported to us their need for security as they feel that that there are continuing threats to their safety even after the incident.

In the same vein, we would like to take this opportunity to ask you, as well, to continue and hasten the investigations into the many cases of media killings that, so long as they remain unsolved, will ever be a blot on our country, the government and the PNP.

We will be only too willing to assist you in putting closure to these cases.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Jose Torres Jr.
Chairman

Rowena Paraan
Secretary-General

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