SEAPA Alert: Anti-drugs agent threatens Philippine television news team

7 March 2011
Source: CMFR

An agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), angered by media criticism of the agency, allegedly threatened a television news team which was covering the arrest of a drug trafficking suspect on 1 March 2011 in General Santos City, approximately 1,049 kilometers south of Manila.

The incident happened while the news team of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Company was at the PDEA Region XII office in General Santos City to conduct interviews on the joint raid carried out by the PDEA and the Sarangani provincial police in Maitum town, Sarangani.

Reporter Jay Dayupay said a Special Investigator 2 Raymund Parama tried to stop cameraman Randy Estrella from taking footage of the alleged suspect arrested in the raid. Parama allegedly told the cameraman in Filipino, “If that ever gets aired, you better watch out.”

Dayupay asked the PDEA agent why he was being hostile. The PDEA agent allegedly answered: “You have been criticizing us (PDEA) about the arrest (of alleged drug traffickers) in Silway, General Santos City.”

Dayupay told CMFR on 7 March 2011 that the PDEA agent was allegedly irked over an ABS-CBN report on the complaints of the residents of Silway, General Santos City on another PDEA raid. The residents alleged that the PDEA agents did not coordinate with village officials, were intoxicated during the raid, and were indiscriminate in arresting people.

PDEA Region XII spokesperson Wilson Esparcia told the ABS-CBN news team that the PDEA agents were demoralized by the network’s story on the Silway residents’ complaints, Dayupay said.

Dayupay and Estrella have reported the incident to the General Santos City police’s Investigation, Detection, and Management Section (IDMS).

Dayupay said the local chapter of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP-Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) and PDEA officials will be meeting on 7 March 2011 to discuss the incident and other instances of alleged PDEA harassment against media practitioners in the Sarangani and General Santos area.

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CMFR (http://www.cmfr-phil.org) is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.

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