Media groups laud gov't action to Pampanga demolition harassment

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Media groups laud gov't action to Pampanga demolition harassment
File photo shows the demolition at Sitio Balubad, Barangay Anunas in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Released / Karapatan Central Luzon

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Central Luzon Media Association and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Pampanga commended the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) for its "swift action" following an incident against journalists during a demolition.

It could be remembered that a private security agency official allegedly robbed and threatened to kill 88.7 K5 News FM radio anchor and field reporter Rowena Rebusada Quejada while covering a violent demolition at Sitio Balubad, Angeles City on March 12, 2024.

The suspect was reportedly a security guard from the Primo Shield Security Service and Investigation (PSSSI), who was hired by Clarkhills Property Corp. to assist in the court-issued writ of demolition.

"PTFoMS Executive Director Usec. Paul M. Gutierrez, said the complaint for robbery with intimidation, grave threat, grave coercion, oral defamation, and illegal possession of firearms, was filed against the suspect, alias ‘Mico’ on March 22, 2024, or just 10 days after the incident," said the task force on Saturday.

"The PTFoMS is the principal government mechanism mandated to address all violations against the life, liberty, and security of all members of the media and ensure a safe media environment in the Philippines, created under Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2016."



Gutierrez said that he immediately dispatched PTFoMS chief of staff Hue Jyro Go to investigate the incident in Pampanga with the assistance from the Angeles City Police Office, Task Force Usig and Angeles City Chief Prosecutor Oliver Garcia.

Quejada said that she is determined to pursue the case after the suspect refused to show up at the Angeles City Police Office to give his side on the incident and apologize.

PTFoMS likewise chided Clarkhills Property for "bad faith" after it allegedly presented a fake suspect during the investigation who claimed he was the one who assaulted Quejada.

"[Gutierrez] said the charges were appropriate for the gross violation of Quejada’s civil and media rights committed by the suspect who was positively identified by the Quejada," PTFoMS said.

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. earlier condemned the incident of intimidation. Another member of the press, Joann Manabat of online news outlet Rappler, was said to have been threatened to be shot by unknown persons at the demolition should she take video clips. She decided not to file any complaint.

'Poking a gun at a journalist's face'

In her sworn complaint, Quejada bared that the suspect in white shirt not only poked a gun at her face but also forcibly took her cellphone to prevent her from recording the violent demolition.

The suspect was also quoted as saying the following: "You, the media are the devils. You should be buried alive or killed! The demolition should have concluded a long time ago but because of media mother f**kers like you, our job is taking longer!"

Quejada said that she tried to reason with the suspect by saying she has not taken any video footage. However, the suspect allegedly shouted at his men to "start digging her grave."

The suspect then reportedly grabbed a crowbar and aimed to strike her with it. A Japanese resident and his wife fortunately intervened and asked her to seek shelter at their home.

Gutierrez earlier proposed to the Commission on Human Rights, as a member of the PTFoMS, for the creation of a "joint panel" the investigate the incident and offer to the commission other evidence they have gathered. This suggestion, however, was declined.

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