Broadcaster claims governor attacked him (Updated)

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A broadcaster of a government-run radio station plans to file charges against the governor of Kalinga province for allegedly attacking and threatening to kill him. Kalinga is approximately 317 kilometers north of Manila.

Broadcaster  Jerome Tabanganay  said that at  around 1 p.m. last 07 June 2011, Gov. Jocel Baac and 10 armed men  barged into the radio booth of the government-run dzRK-Radyo ng Bayan and mauled him while he was still on the air. Tabanganay said he sustained a wound on his lips after Baac allegedly hit him with a microphone.

Baac also threatened to kill him, Tabanganay told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in a 9 June 2011 interview. The attack was recorded on video as Tabanganay’s program “Agenda” is streamed live online.

(Video courtesy of Jerome Tabanganay and dzRK. You can also watch the video here.)

Baac, however,  denied hitting and threatening Tabanganay in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Baac told the Inquirer that “(he) just tried to grab the microphone and take it off from its stand. The microphone might have hit him in the process.” The governor added that: “I only wanted him to stop talking because while I was there, he was  calling on other members of his tribe to come to his rescue.”

Tabanganay believes that Baac was angered by his saying during his broadcast that the governor (whom he did not name in the report) had reprimanded the dzRK  station manager for letting other news agencies report the 24 May 2011 bombing attack on dzRK.  The governor allegedly scolded the station manager during a “Kapihan”  (a discussion over coffee between government officials and the media) last 6 June 2011 because he feared that the report would negatively affect tourism in his province.

Unidentified men threw four  explosives at the dzRK radio compound last 24 May 2011. The attack was allegedly connected to Tabanganay’s criticism of the resumption of jueteng (an illegal numbers game)  in the province. (See “Radio station bombing linked to illegal numbers game”) Tabanganay also said Baac did not want to treat the 24 May 2011 incident as a bomb attack but rather as an “attempted arson.”

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Sec. Herminio Coloma condemned Batac’s alleged attack on Tabanganay in a 9 June 2011 statement. The PCOO oversees the operations of the Philippine Broadcasting Services  of which Radyo ng Bayan is a part.

Coloma said that “We are requesting DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Sec. Jesse Robredo to initiate appropriate procedures for making Governor Baac accountable for his disruptive behavior. We reaffirm our commitment to protect the responsible exercise of freedom of expression by Broadcasters and Journalists.” DILG has launched an investigation into the alleged attack on Tabanganay.

Last 15 May 2010, Tabanganay survived a slay attempt that was allegedly triggered by his commentaries against incumbent officials and candidates allegedly linked to illegal logging and gambling. A frustrated murder case has been filed against the alleged gunman and  his accomplices.  The case is still ongoing.

(UPDATE: Tabanganay and dzRK filed a complaint against Gov. Baac for grave threat and physical injury.)

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