Originally published on the CMFR website on 19 February 2016.
CMFR/Philippines – A reporter for a state-owned television network complained that he was prevented from reentering the venue of an event organized by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) last February 17 at the University of the Philippines (UP) Bahay ng Alumni in Diliman, Quezon City. He was also “verbally bullied.” UP-based student journalists also complained that a student reporter had also been prevented from entering the venue.
In a report published by GMA News Online on Thursday, February 18, LP spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said he was “not aware of any such incident. I was there and media from the various networks and publications were present in full force. As you said, it was an NAPC event and LP had no hand in the arrangements. Mar and Leni were merely invited guests.”
People’s Television (PTV) Network reporter Roll Jervis Manahan was covering the NAPC event in which Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and vice-presidential candidate Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo were guests when he received a call from a colleague saying that campus journalists were being bullied by LP supporters and NAPC members.
The latter had allegedly barricaded the entrance and denied the students entry to the venue. The reporter decided to go outside to assist the students and direct them to the venue’s side entrance. However, they were all redirected to the main entrance.
Manahan, in his Facebook post, said, “That time, Leni Robredo was already onstage so I decided to leave my friends and return to the venue. To my dismay, the human barricade stopped me and started verbally bullying me! They mistook me for a protester even if I had a sticker and a media ID. And their words were hurtful (i.e. “Bawal ka dito, manggugulo ka lang [You’re not allowed here, you’ll only cause trouble]”). I told them that my cameraman and my bags were all inside as I had properly registered earlier but they insisted ‘Huwag mo kaming lokohin, kararating mo lang, wag ka nang sumubok pang pumasok dito [You can’t fool us, you just arrived, don’t dare enter].’”
Manahan was able to get back inside only when the person in charge of registration positively identified him as a reporter covering the event.
Meanwhile, Tinig ng Plaridel (TNP), the official student publication of the UP College of Mass Communication, released a statement condemning the harassment of one of its reporters. TNP said that its reporter was live-tweeting about an ongoing protest outside the venue when she was “verbally abused, called out and jeered by the LP crowd”, along with campus journalists from other student publications in UP. TNP did not identify the reporter.
According to the TNP statement, “At one point during the picket, when two LP vehicles approached the steps of the Bahay ng Alumni, the UPDP along with some LP supporters blocked and pushed away our reporter while it allowed members of the mainstream media to cover the news.
“When our reporter asserted her right as a campus journalist, she was met with comments from the LP supporters who had gone down to block her with the UPDP, and the UPDP pushed her back further, claiming that they were doing it for ‘security reasons.’”
TNP condemned the Liberal Party for restricting the rights of the campus press and the access of the public to information. “The event was a government-organized function; therefore, it should have welcomed not only members of the press but also students and the public in an act of transparency,” TNP said.