Duterte to investigate mauling of photojournalist
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assured a photojournalist allegedly mauled by anti-riot cops last Thursday, February 13, that a proper investigation will be launched to shed light on the incident.
"I must conduct an investigation to clear things," Duterte said.
The Davao City Chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Barry Ohaylan, a correspondent for Pinoy Weekly and Kilab Multimedia Group, was assaulted while covering a protest action of farmers outside a military headquarters, even though it was evident that he was carrying a camera and was wearing his press ID.
Ohaylan has been a photojournalist for years and his photos have already appeared in various online sites, and in local, national and international dailies, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the New York Times, the NUJP said.
"The Davao City Chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns in the highest possible terms the brazen, indiscriminate and intemperate use of violence against protesting farmers, miners and the media by anti-riot police officers under the Davao City Police Office on Thursday, which has resulted to the injury of a Davao-based photojournalist and several other protesters," NUJP Davao chair Jessie Casalda said.
Casalda called it an issue of police brutality and demanded that the incident would not be made a precedent for more attacks against journalists.
"The police brutality constitutes an act of impunity against Ohaylan and peaceful marchers, and shows the lack of empathy and prudence on the part of the local police force to exercise the mandatory maximum tolerance," Casalda said.
"What is more alarming is that after being confronted by other journalists covering the protests, the cop who hit Ohaylan never apologized and hid behind his equally cold-hearted and coward superiors. And we thought, “life is here” in Davao City," he added.
NUJP said video footages of the incident would prove that the "attack was not an accidental hit."
"A video footage of the incident clearly shows that the police ganged-up and cornered the defenseless Ohaylan who, on top of his lungs, identified himself as a member of the media," Casalda said.
One reporter was even taunted by the still unidentified police ground commander to a fist fight, NUJP reported.
"The PNP should not say that Ohaylan is just a collateral damage and that the media should back off and take photos and footages miles away from an event," Casalda said.
"We do not live in a ruthless dictatorship where state security forces can tell the media what to do. We do not live in the Wild West where state security forces can shoot now and ask questions later," he added.
Casalda commented that the violent dispersal "breaches what Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has ordered long before that no protest will be dispersed violently in the city."
Ohaylan said he is presently seeking legal advice for possible filing of charges against the Davao City Police Office.
"The city was able to discipline smoking, speed limit and the use of firecrackers. These police officers should also be disciplines. They are tarnishing the reputation of the city. What a disgrace," Ohaylan said.
Ohaylan is still recovering from his injury as of Monday, February 17. – Rappler.com