A Filipino 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. on 7 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 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.
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) on 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 on 24 May 2011. The attack was allegedly connected to Tabanganay’s criticism of the resumption of “jueteng” (an illegal numbers game) in the province.
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 Communications 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: “We are requesting DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Sec. Jesse Robredo to initiate appropriate procedures for making Gov. 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.
Om 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.
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.