CMFR/Philippines – A policeman allegedly mauled a photojournalist after the dispersal of protesters in Davao City on 13 February 2013. The Davao City mayor said he would investigate the matter after the journalists’ union condemned the incident.
Davao City is some 1,500 kilometers south of Manila.
Photojournalist Barry Ohaylan of Pinoy Weekly and Kilab Multimedia was covering a clash between protesters and the anti-riot police of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) when a policeman hit him with a truncheon, resulting in injuries on his arm and a gash on his forehead. Other protesters and media workers came to his rescue.
Farmers from Panacan village had gathered in front of the Eastern Mindanao Command Headquarter to protest military camps in their communities, Ohaylan told CMFR on 18 February 2014.
“The police already had control of the situation (when I was attacked). The protesters had already dispersed but they kept pushing forward,” Ohaylan said.
“I kept saying I was from the media. I was wearing my press badge and holding my camera, but a policeman still struck me on the arm, then on the forehead and elbow.”
Ohaylan added that the policeman who hit him also challenged other media workers to a fist-fight after the incident.
The Davao City chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the incident and denounced a statement by DCPO Director Vicente Danao.
“Danao said that the media should not get in the way and if they do “parang kasama na rin nila (it’s like the media are one of the protesters),” NUJP’s statement said.
“We take this to mean that Danao and the police consider any journalist who covers direct confrontation (between authorities and protesters) as ‘getting in the way’ and as fair game to violence and similar treatment against ordinary citizens.”
In an interview with ABS-CBN Davao, Danao said the protesters were dispersed because they had no permit to rally and were obstructing traffic. He said media workers hurt in the dispersal were collateral damage.
On 17 February 2014, the online news site Rappler.com reported that Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he will launch an investigation on the mauling.
“I must conduct an investigation to clear things,” Duterte said according Rappler.com.
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