Radio reporter harassed, detained for covering protest
CMFR/PHILIPPINES — A Tagum, Davao-based Radyo ni Juan reporter was detained by police in the municipality of Carmen, Davao del Norte on 21 January 2020. Carmen is 947 kilometers from Manila.
Glenn Jester Hitgano told CMFR he was covering the protest of workers from the Philippine Dream Farm Development Company when the harassment happened. Hitgano was interviewing the protest leader when three policemen cornered him, tried to confiscate his cellphone, and demanded that he delete the record of his interview. The policemen also attempted to handcuff the reporter but ceased when Hitgano asserted his rights as a journalist. He was then detained for an hour at the Carmen Police Station, but was released after promising the Chief of Police that he will abandon coverage of the protest.
Hitgano said he was the only one covering the protest after he received the previous night’s reports of workers being harassed by some armed men.
He added that this was his first experience of police coercion. Because of the incident, he said he has stopped collecting reports from police stations around Tagum.
Alternative media group Altermidya denounced the attack on Hitgano. In a statement released on their site, Altermidya called it a “blatant violation of the media’s task of exposing the truth to the public” and a “pure assault not just on press freedom but on the public’s right to know.” The group is calling for an independent investigation to “hold to account the members of the Carmen police.”
This is the 13th recorded case of attacks and threats against the media in Mindanao and the 4th in Tagum since 2019.