By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the harassment of members of progressive media outfit Tudla Productions Group Inc. by the local police during the January 25 demolition of an urban poor community in barangay (village) Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City.
Godson Escopete, 25, was taking a video from a roof when he was manhandled by village chairman Ruel Sumaguinsin who turned him over to three policemen, one of whom held him by the neck. Escopete was hauled him into a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) 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 after 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, “Where is your courage now?” before she was led off by three policewomen. Solmayor was detained until January 28; she was released after her brother posted bail. The equipment of Radyo Pinaglabanan, which was put up by community members who pooled their resources, went missing after the demolition.
Tudla executive director Lady Ann Salem, 25, who was documenting the demolition aftermath was also harassed. A certain police Superintendent Arcallana took photographs of Salem and intimidated her. The group is in the process of making a short film and documentary on the plight of the local residents.
“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,” Nestor Burgos, NUJP chairman, said in a statement.
The group demanded that the Philippine National Police (PNP) undertake an immediate investigation into the incidents. It also called on the PNP to impose sanctions on those personnel, including Superintendent Arcallana, involved in the harassment and for the Department of Interior and Local Government to investigate Sumaguinsin and impose the appropriate disciplinary action against him.
Media Group Condemns Harassment of Journalists During Violent Demolition in San Juan
By RONALYN V. OLEA