Reporter files charges against SBMA police officers

OLONGAPO CITY – A reporter on Friday filed charges against three law enforcement officers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for harassment during a news coverage last week.

In a complaint filed before the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s office, Jeff Tumabado, a stringer for ABS-CBN, accused Vicente Tolentino, officer-in-charge of the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED), a certain Viray and Ronald, of grave oral defamation and grave threats.

Tumbado said that on May 27, 2008, at about 5:30 p.m., he was taking a video footage of the SBMA-LED office for a follow-up report on the confiscation of illegal drugs when he was accosted by Tolentino and his men.

Tolentino’s group reportedly ordered Tumbado to stop shooting and to produce his identification card.

“I was willing to go through their verification process. I told them to verify my identity with their public relations office or call my editors since ABS-CBN have yet to issue my company ID, they refused,” Tumbado said.

Tumbado said Tolentino pounced on him and yanked the video camera while other LED officers grabbed his shoulder and twisted his arm. One of the officers allegedly even tried to pull out a gun.

“Hindi mo ba alam na bawal kumuha ng video? Wala kang authority dito, ako ang hari dito (Don’t you know, I am the king here)? Kilalanin mo kung sino lolokohin mo, Baka may paglagyan ka dito,” Tombado quoted Tolentino in his complaint.

“They only backed off when I showed them my press ID from my former media outfit. I was already hurting then because they aggravated a wrist injury I had,” Tumbado said.

The Olongapo-Subic chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the actions of Tolentino and his men.

“The law enforcers were given ample opportunity to verify Tumbado’s identity and affiliation, but they refused to do so and did not recognize the constitutionally-protected rights of journalists to report the news,” the NUJP said in a statement.

“The incident was made worse because it was at the height of the biggest illegal drug bust in the country. It was of paramount importance that the public know what was happening in Subic,” the group added. GMANews.TV

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