Sanction Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac (PR)

June 8, 2011

The brazen assault by Governor Jocel Baac on Kalinga broadcaster Jerome Tabanganay as he wrapped up his program “Agenda” on dzRK Radyo ng Bayan-Kalinga on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, shows the extent to which impunity has thrived in this benighted land of ours.

Accounts received by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) from our colleagues in Tabuk said Baac, backed by goons armed with Armalite rifles, barged into the announcer’s booth and struck Tabanganay in the mouth with a microphone.

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Before he left, he threatened the broadcaster, saying: “Ituloy mo. Magsalita ka pa. Papatayin kita(Go on. Keep talking. I will kill you).”

Tabanganay is the same broadcaster who survived an assassination attempt on May 19 last year after he began criticizing the resurgence of the illegal numbers game “jueteng” in the province.

According to the accounts received by the NUJP, Talabangay had been discussing an altercation between Baac and dzRK station manager Basilio Baluyan during the provincial government’s “Kapihan” the day before. Baac was supposedly demanding that dzRK retract a report on the attempted burning of the station on June 6, specifically the one aired on ABS-CBN and dzMM, because it might tarnish the province’s image. Naturally, Baluyan told the governor that they could not retract a report that was not theirs. Neither, he added, were they the source of the ABS-CBN report. Because of this, Baac reportedly humiliated Baluyan.

Whether or not the image of such a beautiful province as Kalinga can be tarnished by a story on the attempted arson of a radio station is debatable. What is not debatable is that having a governor who acts like a hooligan and who has delusions that his mere say-so will cause a truth that has been said to be withdrawn certainly will damage the province’s reputation.

More important, and direst of all, the continued existence of officials like Baac proves our contention that this administration appears unable, or unwilling, to dismantle a system of governance that has allowed warlords to thrive by amassing wealth – more often than not, ill-gotten, and power and to reign over their bailiwicks as if these were their personal fiefdoms.

This incident shows the extent to which this system of governance has allowed petty tyrants and the enemies of truth to use everything at their disposal to silence those with whom they disagree with impunity.

We demand that the Aquino administration prove its worth and immediately sanction Baac. We demand that security forces in Kalinga ensure the safety of Tabanganay and the media community in that province. We demand an end to all attempts to silence the independent Philippine press.


Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chair
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary general

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