June 2, 2008
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Ozamiz City Chapter is extremely disturbed over the harassment made and threats to the life of broadcaster Adonie Decena, a reporter for DxSY-AM and news presenter of news production group Ronda Balita.
Midnight of May 23, 2008, Decena was awakened in their home in Sitio Viray, Barangay Molicay in Ozamiz City by a certain Francisco “Loloy Iko” Acapulco who was drunk and brandishing an M-16 baby Armalite rifle. Several witnesses have told Decena that had two Armalite-wielding companions waiting from a distance under the cover of darkness.
Acapulco, a former barangay official who heads the operation of a commercial quarry outfit, confronted Decena about the commentary segment in Ronda Balita’s May 21 news production that tackled alleged abuses the business committed against local residents. In the commentary, Decena was attributed as source of information about the alleged abuses and also named Acapulco as the principal perpetrator.
Ellen Pelare, Ronda Balita executive producer, said that in coming up with the commentary segment, Decena was the logical choice of information source given his deep knowledge about the issue as he resides in the area. Further, Decena has also tackled the problem in 2005.
According to Decena, Acapulco himself admitted he was mad at him because of the broadcast commentary. During their tense 45-minute conversation that featured the aiming, from time to time, of the Armalite rifle on Decena’s 51-year old mother, Acapulco hurled insults and invectives at Decena and belittled the local media community. Acapulco also collared Decena and from time to time pounded on his body. As they parted ways, Acapulco threatened to kill Decena if he tells colleagues about the incident and pursue legal actions.
We therefore consider the assault on Decena not just a personal one but also an attack on the entire news media profession. We strongly condemn Acapulco’s actions and hope he will be meted the appropriate sanctions.
We note here Acapulco’s tendency to commit violence every time the issue about the controversial quarry operation crops up in the local media. Decena said that when he reported about it in 2005, Acapulco himself looked for him. We therefore put to task also Mr. Walter Lao, Acapulco’s employer, for his employee’s behavior. This unconscionable act must not be left to impunity by a businessman committed to social good.
We commend Decena for standing up against the abuses of Acapulco by filing a complaint before the City Prosecutor’s Office. We pray that the complaint can be given due course. We enjoin our colleagues and other freedom-loving individuals to extend whatever support to keep up with this legal effort. We also call on witnesses to the incident to come out, at the appropriate time, and help bring justice to the case.
At no other time is the need to close ranks very high than today. The harassment against Decena sadly comes at a time when the journalism profession in the country is already reeling from the spate of killings, threats and intimidations among its ranks of practitioners. Collectively, these incidents are endangering the health of our democracy. The unabated attacks against journalists affect their ability to provide fair and balanced information to the people, and worst hampers the flow of information which is vital for effective social decision making.
We urge both citizens and authorities, from the level of the barangay and up to the national level to help protect Decena from further harm by Acapulco and his minions.#
JOVENCIO R. GODOY JR.
Chair, Ozamiz City Chapter
Contact Number (088) 521-1630
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