Originally published on the CMFR website on 6 April 2016.
CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Several journalists reported being harassed while covering the dispersal of the picket of farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato on 1 April 2016. The farmers were rallying to demand from the local government relief subsidies due to poor harvests because of prolonged drought.
Kidapawan City is 1,584 kilometers south of Manila.
Jaja Necosia of Kilab Multimedia was taking photos of the advancing police line during the dispersal when the police began throwing stones. Necosia was hit and wounded.
In another incident, Davao Today correspondent Danilda Fusilero and her husband were leaving a coffee shop outside the Spottswood Methodist Church compound to which the farmers had withdrawn after the rally when two policemen approached and handcuffed them.
According to a Davao Today report, the couple was released only after Fusilero showed the policemen her media identification card and North Cotabato Vice-governor Jose Tuburan confirmed that she was really from the media. Fusilero had been covering the rally since March 30.
Journalists from 783 Radyo ni Juan were also reportedly harassed by policemen deployed near the church compound. According to a report in Bulatlat.com, the policemen were taunting the broadcasters by singing “One Radio one month na lang mo. (One Radio, you’ve got one month left.)” when they saw the station’s vehicle in the area.
In what seemed to be a related incident, the National Telecommunications Commission conducted an inspection of 783 Radyo ni Juan’s sister station 107.9 One Radio News FM in Kidapawan on April 4. Kath Cortez, News Editor of One Radio News FM and reporter in 783 Radyo ni Juan posted this on her Facebook page:
(So what do the National Telecommunications Commission mean by the surprise inspection of 107.9 One Radio News FM in Kidapawan? Is this a part of the “One radio, you’ve got one month left” harassment? We have complete requirements to operate, and our reporters are KBP passers.)
CMFR tried to contact the Kidapawan police, but they declined to comment on the journalists’ allegations.