GMA reporter Jun Veneracion recorded a video of an encounter between police officers and a Black Nazarene devotee at Ayala Bridge in Manila Thursday.
Facebook screengrab/Jun Veneracion
PNP to look into district chief who snatched reporter's phone at Traslacion
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - January 10, 2020 - 9:22am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:32 a.m.) — The Philippine National Police said it will look into the incident of a police general confiscating a reporter's phone while covering the Traslacion, an annual religious procession dedicated to the Black Nazarene.

In a Facebook post, GMA reporter Jun Veneracion claimed that Brig. Gen. Nolasco Bathan, chief of the Southern Police District, took away his cellphone while he was recording a video of a commotion between the police and a Black Nazarene devotee.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said they will not tolerate such behavior.

"Rest assured that the PNP wouldn't tolerate this and we always respect the rights of the media to cover events like this," Banac told CNN Philippines Friday morning.

Banac said the PNP is waiting for the statement of the National Capital Region Police Office on the incident.

"We will look into this and the PNP will deal with this matter speedily," the police spokesman said.

In a video posted on GMA News' Twitter account, Bathan said he was not aware that Veneracion was a journalist covering the annual procession.

"[M]ay kinuha na magulo na deboto, here comes another guy, nagpi-picture akala ko nire-rescue niya yung deboto na magulo, kinuha ko yung cellphone niya," he said.

(Police were apprehending an unruly devotee, then here comes another guy taking pictures. I though he was rescuing the unruly devotee. I took his cellphone)

Cop general snatches phone

According to Veneracion, a police general "darted out of nowhere" and "snatched" his mobile phone while taking a video of the commotion at Ayala Bridge in Manila.

Another police officer then stopped him from going after the high-ranking police official who took away his phone.

"Minutes later, a group of photo journalists called my attention and pointed to a PNP official. 'Sya yun,' they said. The culprit turned out to be one of the district commanders of the NCRPO—B/Gen. Nolasco Bathan," Veneracion said on Facebook.

When Veneracion confronted Bathan for taking away his phone, the police general said he would stay away for a while as the reporter was mad.

"Minutes later, I came up to him to ask for my phone. 'Pasensya ka na, Jun, hindi kita nakilala,' he said. Then, he handed back the cellphone," the post read.

When the reporter checked his photo gallery, the video of the encounter at Ayala Bridge was already deleted but Bathan denied deleting the video.

Veneracion was able to recover the video from his phone's recently deleted photo album.

"Apparently, someone forgot to switch off the record button. At the tail end of the recording, a voice can be heard: a man giving an instruction to someone. 'Burahin mo, burahin mo kuha ni Jun Veneracion. Pu#!#! ina nagku-kwan eh,'" Veneracion said.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines called the incident a case clear abuse of power by Bathan. "What Bathan did was not just an assault on press freedom, he also violated Veneracion's rights as a citizen of the Republic," the group said. "And the attempt to delete Veneracion's footage is, to our mind, a crime. At the very least, he tried to destroy private property. Worse, here was a police officer destroying what could very well constitute evidence to the commission of a crime by his own men."

GMA JUN VENERACION PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE TRASLACION 2020
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