Bulatlat.com reporter harassed by Army lawyer

“We condemn both the red-tagging and sexual harassment on Bulatlat.com’s reporter Janess Ann Ellao.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A Bulatlat.com journalist was branded as a “leftist” reporter by the lawyer of one of the suspects in the enforced disappearance of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Janess Ann J. Ellao was covering the hearings in Malolos, Bulacan when Bonifacio Alentajan, lawyer of Staff Sgt. Edgardio Osorio, approached her and asked if Ellao is a reporter. When Ellao replied in the affirmative, Alentajan demanded that he be interviewed.

While making his statement, Alentajan suddenly started touching Ellaos’ right arm and elbow. Ellao shrugged Alentajan’s hands and the latter shouted, “You listen!” Then Alentajan accused Ellao of “not paying attention.”

Ellao asked Alentahan, “Why are you shouting at me?” Alentajan then started to walk away and shouted that Ellao is “being impolite.”

After the incident, a fellow reporter overheard Alentajan saying, “Putang ina! Yun reporter na yun, leftist naman.” (Son of a b*tch! That reporter is a leftist).

Benjie Oliveros, editor of Bulatlat.com and spokesperson of Altermidya, a national network of alternative media outfits, condemned the incident.

“Tagging a journalist a leftist is dangerous,” Oliveros said. “In this country, red baiting is tantamount to becoming a target by state security forces. Many of the victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations were declared as ‘enemies of the state.’”

Oliveros noted that during the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, Bulatlat.com, along with other media groups, was tagged as “enemies of the state” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We condemn both the red-tagging and sexual harassment on Bulatlat.com’s reporter Janess Ann Ellao.”

Bulatlat.com has been consistent in its human rights reporting. “We will not be cowed by any form of harassment. We are only doing our job as journalists – to tell the truth and provide space for those whose voices have been muted,” Oliveros said.

Osorio is one of the co-accused of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. They have been charged with serious illegal detention and kidnapping. ()

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