Discipline colonel who threatened Cotabato reporter

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippine demands that the
Armed Forces of the Philippines discipline one Lieutenant Colonel John
Oswald Bucu, camp commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, for
threatening Loreto Rosario, reporter of radio dxMS of the Notre Dame
Broadcasting Corporation in Cotabato City, who was covering the fire
that razed the unit’s ammunition dump last Friday, October 31.

It was bad enough that Bucu berated Rosario, a member of the NUJP
Cotabato chapter, who was merely carrying out his duties as a
journalist in covering the fire at the military camp and properly
identified himself by showing the officer his identification card.

Surely, Bucu, if he was paying any attention at all, would have known
that Rosario has been covering the division for years and could not,
therefore, be an “intruder” with no business covering the fire.

But this supposed “officer and gentleman” went on to confiscate
Rosario’s identification card and cellular phone and also told the
reporter, “If it were not for me, my men would have shot you.”

Not satisfied, Bucu had the temerity to continue berating Rosario in
the office of the division spokesman, Colonel Julieto Ando.

We understand it was this same Bucu who branded NUJP Kidanapawan
chapter president Malu Cadelina Manar, program director of Catholic
station dxND in North Cotabato, a “member” of the New People’s Army at
a gathering of reporters at the headquarters of the Army’s 602nd
Brigade in Carmen, North Cotabato some two years ago.

Bucu is clearly a disgrace to the uniform he wears.

Even more disturbing, however, he is clear proof of the culture of
impunity that has thrived in this country because of official
inaction, even apathy, towards continued attacks on media.

We understand Ando has apologized for the incident. Which speaks well
of Ando but highlights the utter arrogance of Bucu. The only
conclusion we can draw is that Bucu thinks he can get away with what
he did, just as many of the brains behind the scores of unsolved media
murders do.

Indeed, we would not be surprised if Bucu had taken his cue to harass
Rosario or, earlier, to publicly slander Manar, from this government’s
actual attempts to muzzle the independent Philippine press, as we saw
in the short-lived state of emergency of February 2006 and the more
recent arrest of journalists covering the Manila Peninsula incident
last year.

The AFP should impose on Bucu the sanctions he so richly deserves for
his clear assault on press freedom. Failure to do so will only
reinforce the perception that there is, at best, tacit official
approval of attempts to silence the media. #

For reference:

Rowena C. Paraan
Executive Coordinator, IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office
Treasurer, NUJP

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