By JOHN PAUL NACION
MANILA – A group of independent and progressive media outfits assailed the shooting of two journalists who were covering a fact-finding mission in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan last Jan. 28
Journalists Manuel Garcellano and Reymark Umpacan of progressive media Umani Productions were covering the gathering of farmers and advocates when security guards and armed goons deployed in the disputed lands fired at them, making them scamper for safety.
Two security guards then went after Garcellano and hit him in the face, causing his nose to bleed. They then took his mirrorless camera and his bag, which contained his memory cards, audio recorder, microphone, and cables. His bag also contained his other personal belongings such as his IDs, ATM cards, keys, and cash.
Garcellano was forced to lie face down on the ground with the paralegals and farmers they were interviewing. He could see the guards firing at the elderly farmers who were already on the ground. He was shot at, but the bullet missed his leg and later discovered what appeared to be a bullet hole in his pants.
Before the guards left, one took Garcellano’s monopod mount and smashed it in front of the journalist.
The entire incident, said Altermidya – People’s Alternative Media Network in their statement, took about 30 minutes.
“The shooting and intimidation of journalists are a blatant violation of press freedom. Journalists should not be hindered in covering stories especially those that involve human rights abuses against farmers and marginalized sectors,” said Altermidya.
In a separate statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has also issued an alert on this incident.
Umani Productions is a progressive media that brings to fore issues confronting farmers, including land disputes such that in Tungkong Mangga, where farmers have been facing eviction threats since 2013. (JJE, RVO)