Davao journalists troop to Ombudsman to support beaten colleague

Nov. 09, 2007

By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Davao journalists rallied behind Radyo Natin Compostela
broadcaster Roel Sembrano, who filed criminal and administrative
charges before the Office of the Mindanao Ombudsman against the
poitician who allegedly attacked him inside the announcer’s booth
while he was airing a regular radio program last month.

The journalists trooped to the office of the Mindanao Ombudsman as
Sembrano filed a criminal case of grave coercion, grave threats,
physical injury, and an administrative case of grave abuse of
authority against against the Compostela Valley provincial board
member Neri Barte, who allegedly attacked him inside the announcer’s
booth at around 6:15 a.m. of October 23.

Carlos Zarate, secretary general of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in
Mindanao (UPLM), said the lawyers’ group is helping out in the case
because it involves not only the trampling of rights of one person but
also it touches on the issue of press freedom and the culture of
impunity reigning in the country.

Zarate said the case involved a top government official using power to
suppress the press. “This is dangerous because there are already more
than 50 journalists killed in our country since the restoration of
democracy in 1986,” he said.

In Full Force. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Davao Chapter Chairperson Carmelito Francisco reads out the statement jointly signed by NUJP and the KBP, Kapisan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) before filing criminal and administrative charges at the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao against the public official accused of mauling radio and pointing a gun at Radyo Natin Compostela broadcaster Roel Sembrano inside the announcer’s booth on October 24. With him are (From left) KBP Davao Chairperson Roy Geonzon, Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) Davao Chapter Secretary General Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Atty. Bibiano Bustamante, also a UPLM lawyer, as counsels for the complainant. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

“We don’t only demand for a stop of the killing of journalists but
also to stop all attacks against press freedom.” “Instead of attacking the bearer of the message, why can’t they just
listen to the message, itself?” Zarate said.

Both the Davao chapters of journalist groups National Union of
Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Kapisanan ng mga
Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) urged colleagues not to treat the
incident lightly, because this may encourage more politicians to
attack any unprotected media man while discussing legitimate issues on

“What happened to Roel Sembrano only showed ongoing attempts to
curtail the freedom of expression in the country,” said the joint
statement, signed by Carmelito Francisco, chair of NUJP Davao and Roy
Geonzon, chair of KBP Davao.

“It shows how members of the local media have become easy targets of
such attacks by abusive public officials.”

comments powered by Disqus