NorDis Reporter harassed by Police, made to delete photos

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — Northern Dispatch Reporter and his companions from Baguio City who were supposed to attend the unveiling of the Anti-Chico Dam Struggle Heroes Monument were harassed by Tinglayan Municipal Police on Saturday, April 24 in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga.

Receiving information that the event was postponed, Khim Abalos and his companions decided to eat lunch at Brgy. Basao, a nearby barangay. He was with the Cordillera People’s Alliance, Philippine Task Force of Indigenous People, and other institutions that were attending the event.

While they were eating, six police personnel, some in full-battle gear and one in plain clothes, confronted the group. They identified themselves as Charlie Allan, Master Sergeant Malangyo, Palis Uyam, and Monica Sinumlag; the sixth officer’s handwriting was hard to read.

They showed the group a resolution of the Basao Barangay Peace and Order Council and Barangay Development Council declaring ‘CPA and other leftist groups persona non grata’ in the barangay.

Abalos chose to document the police confrontation with the delegates. However, one officer ordered to delete his recording. Abalos showed them his media ID but the police still demanded to delete the photos and videos. Threatened and to diffuse the tension, Abalos deleted a few shots.

“Syempre nando’n yung takot kasi phone yung hawak ko for coverage tapos sila ay may hawak na baril. I asserted na member ako ng media, pero yung response nung pulis ay pagkuha ng picture ko. Kaya during that time, I felt my rights as a journalist were violated. Pina-delete yung shots ko and they didn’t acknowledge na member ako ng press,” Abalos told CMFR.

NorDis Editor-in-Chief Kimberlie Quitasol condemned the incident, saying, “it was a form of media censorship. Our reporter must have captured something the police do not want the public to know about.”

This is not the first time Northern Dispatch has been harassed. Last year, the alternative news organization’s EIC was sued for cyber libel after two courts had dismissed the libel charges filed by the same complainant, Cordillera Police Regional Director Brigadier General R’Win Pagkalinawan. A cyber libel case was also filed against Abalos last Sept. 23, after the court had junked two earlier libel charges.