Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the recent arbitrary arrest and temporary detention of a Davao-based radio reporter who was purportedly harassed by the police for interviewing protesters.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said the highly irregular arrest of Radyo ni Juan reporter Glenn Jester Hitgano should not be tolerated because it is a shameless attack on press freedom.
“Mariin nating kinokondena ang hindi makatarungang pag-aresto at panandaliang pagpapakulong kay Mr. Glenn Hitgano na walang ibang nais kundi ang magampanan lamang ang kanyang trabaho bilang tagapagdala ng balita sa publiko,” she said.
“This deplorable attack by the authorities who are expected to uphold and respect the rights of the people at all times does not only undermine the media’s role as messengers of truth to the public, but also promotes harassment and intimidation against them,” she said.
Last Jan. 21, Hitgano was reportedly arrested and temporarily detained by authorities after interviewing the protesting workers of the banana company Philippine Dream Farm Development in Carmen, Davao del Norte.
Based on Hitgano’s accounts, the policemen who were insulted by the interview attempted to confiscate his phone and ordered him to delete the recordings. He was detained for an hour and was released only after he promised not to report about the protest.
Hitgano further confirmed that he covered the protest after supposedly receiving information that the workers were being harassed by uniformed men during the previous night.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that the recent incident should prompt the media and the public to step up their efforts in defending press freedom and demanding accountability for all the abuses against the members of the press.
“By not speaking out against the abuses against the press, we are indirectly giving the policemen and other abusive leaders the license to supress the truth,” she said.
“Manindigan po tayo para sa katotohanan at huwag nating hayaan ang mga mapang-abuso at sinungaling na patuloy na maghari-harian sa bayan,” she added.
In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1860 requiring media entities to provide insurance coverage and hazard pay to journalists and other media persons, especially to those assigned in conflict or disaster areas. (30)