BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) strongly condemns the Presidential Security Guard (PSG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) maltreatment of a local reporter who was covering Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s ribbon-cutting at the Jollibee-Harrison in this city, Friday, November 26.
A PSG wearing a white polo allegedly grabbed the bag and pushed away journalist Adela Wayas from the Jolibee-Harrison. Wayas is a reporter of the Northern Dispatch (Nordis), a newspaper of general circulation in Northern Luzon, and a new member of the local NUJP.
The NUJP-BB considers the PSGs action as pure harassment and discriminatory affront to the people’s right to information as it prevents one journalist duly accredited earlier by their security guidelines from covering the presidential visit.
Wayas said she and other local reporters left the Jollibee area to cover protests action adjacent to where the president was. After the media interview with the protesters, she, following a Sky Cable reporter, was going back inside the Jollibee to cover PNoy’s speech when a PSG grabbed her bag, pushed her away from the area and held her until the president left.
As the PSG was pushing her he interrogated her. He asked where she got her media kits. She told him that she a reporter and that she was with the other media. But the PSG still barraged her with questions like: “Saan ka ba galing? (Where did you come from?) Kasama ka ba ng mga iyon ( Are the protesters your companion)?”
Reiterating that she was there to cover the ribbon-cutting ceremony, she showed to him (PSG) her media identification cards, including those issued earlier by the PIA and the media registration booth at the Jollibee.
Wayas explained that she and other media went outside the Jollibee when they heard protesters shouting outside. Despite the explanation, the PSG pushed her away from the area and turned her over to two lady police officers. Wayas asked the police officers why they were holding her but one of them instead answered: “Saglit lang maam i-chechek namin sa intel, trabaho lang po!” (Just a moment ma’am. We will just check this out with intel. It’s just our work.)
Another man in civilian clothes, believed to be another PSG, approached Wayas and asked: “Saan ka galing?”(Where did you come from?) She reiterated that she is a media practitioner. The PSG said “Bakit ka kasi lumabas nasa loob ka na nga?”(Why did you go out when you were inside already?)
The incident did not only terrorize Wayas as a practicing journalist but the incident was a clear act of suppression of press freedom. We stand firm that she was doing her job as a journalist and in fact was accredited by the PIA and the Presidential team to cover the visit. We urge Pres. Aquino and other concerned authorities to investigate the incident and impose appropriate sanctions against the erring PSG and PNP personnel.
NUJP Baguio-Benguet Chairwoman
NUJP Baguio-Benguet Vice-chairman
NUJP Baguio-Benguet Secretary-General