Malaya, Star reporters stopped by Camp Bagong Diwa police from covering Maguindanao massacre hearing

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Is it a problem of having a jail facility being run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) inside a supposed to be secured police camp? 

On Wednesday, this journalist and fellow journalist Evan Orias from the Malaya newspaper were stopped literally at the very gates of the Quezon City Jail extension where the hearing of the Maguindanao Massacre was being held.

The defense panel was supposed to present its first witness in the still unresolved bail petition hearing for the accused.

Orias and myself, who were aboard my car, were first stopped by the police sentries at the main gate of Camp Bagong Diwa when we arrived at about 10 a.m.

After introducing ourselves as journalists covering the massacre hearing, we were told by sentry PO3 Marlon Buenaflor that media was barred from entering the police camp and was only allowed up to the area near the base’s Medical Service which is just near the gate.

We were then asked to park our vehicle at the area designated for the media and wait until they confirm with their superiors.

While we were waiting, this reporter called up Inspector Aris Villaester, BJMP-National Capital Region who told this reporter that journalists are allowed to cover the hearing of the massacre case but no cameras are allowed.

After hearing this, this reporter then decided to drive toward the BJMP-Quezon City Extension Jail where the hearing was being held at the makeshift courtroom of the Quezon Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

On reaching the jail, Buenaflor and another base sentry arrived and again told us that media are not allowed inside the police camp. Buenaflor then said, “Halika, pumunta tayo dun at kausapin natin 'yung kinausap mo.”

When the jail gate door opened, a group of BJMP personnel was asked by Buenaflor if media are allowed inside. A female jail officer told him that reporters are allowed inside but only if they are carrying just notebooks and pens.

This reporter then asked Buenaflor if we can now enter and cover the hearing. To which Buenaflor retorted, “Dapat sumulat muna kayo ng letter sa amin.”

This reporter then said that we are entering the jail which is not under the control of the police. Buenaflor then said that the jail is inside the police camp.

When this reporter told him that there appears to be a communication slip between the BJMP and the base police, Buenaflor said “Di namin problema 'yan. Problema n'yo 'yan, kayo ang makipag-coordinate sa amin.”

This reporter then asked if he is asking us to leave the police camp, he said “Yes. I am refusing you entry to this camp.” Orias and myself then decided to leave.

But before leaving, this reporter again called Villaester and argued that media have been covering the massacre hearings from the start and that the public has the right to know of its developments. Villaester then asked to talk to Buenaflor using this reporter’s mobile phone.

During their conversation, Buenaflor kept saying “yes sir, yes sir.”

In the end, Orias and myself were still barred from entering the BJMP Jail and covering Wednesday’s hearing.











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