NUJP condemns harassment of alternative journalists in San Juan demolition, demands PNP impose disciplinary sanctions

February 3, 2011
NUJP condemns harassment of alternative journalists in San Juan demolition, demands PNP impose disciplinary sanctions

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemns the harassment of members of alternative media outfit Tudla Productions Group Inc., including the arbitrary and, theferfore, illegal arrest of one journalist, during the  January 25 demolition of an urban poor community in Barangay Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City.

According to Tudla, its photographer, Godson Escopete, 25, was manhandled by Barangay Captain Ruel Sumaguinsin who turned him over to three policemen, one of whom had his arm around his neck. Excopete was hauled him into a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology van, along with residents who were resisting the demolition, even if other journalists covering the incident vouched for him. He was taken to the police station and released only when a colleague from Tudla and a journalist from TV5 vouched for him.

Community broadcaster Diane Marie Solmayor of Radyo Pinaglabanan was also harassed by Suimaguinsin who, according to Tudla, grabbed her from behind and asked, “Ano, nasaan na ang tapang mo ngayon (Where is your courage now)?” before she was led off by three policewomen. Solmayor was detained until January 28 when she was released after her brother posted bail for her. Tudla also reported that equipment of Radyo Pinaglabanan, which was put up by community members who pooled their resources, went missing after the demolition.

Tudla also reported the harassment by a San Juan police officer of Lady Ann Salem, 25, who was documenting the demolition aftermath, particularly negotiations between police and community leaders outside the gates of the KKK Museum and San Juan City Library. A Superintendent Arcallana apparently singled out Salem, making straight for her and then pointing his camera-equipped mobile phone at her as he taunted the journalist. He also took photos of Escopete, who was with Salem at the time.

Tudla is concerned, and with good reason, that the security of its personnel, who have been filming a short film and documentary on the community, may have been compromised because of these incidents.

Indeed, it appears that the San Juan police and Barangay Captain Sumaguinsin singled out members of Tudla for harassment from among the scores of journalists who were covering the demolition.

We would like to remind the San Juan police, particularly Superintendent Arcallana, that journalists working with alternative media outfits have as much legitimacy as those working for the mainstream media.

We demand that the Philippine National Police undertake an immediate investigation into these incidents of harassment against the journalists of Tudla and guarantee that the alternative media outfit’s members shall not be subjected to any more intimidation or assault while undertaking their professional duties. We also demand that the PNP impose sanctions on those personnel, including Superintendent Arcallana, involved in the harassment and that the Department of Interior and Local Government investigate Barangay Captain Sumaguinsin and impose the approriate disciplinary action against him.

Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chair
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secgen

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