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Reporting the people’s demands is not a crime

STATEMENT BY THE PEOPLE’S ALTERNATIVE MEDIA NETWORK/21 May 2020

Information is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporting the people’s grievances and demands is the solemn duty of the media; it is not a crime.

The Guimba municipal council’s Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 52 s.2020 last May 11 empowered the mayor of the Nueva Ecija town to file criminal charges against radio network Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG) for alleged violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11469) by reporting the complaints of residents over the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Prior to the resolution, RNG reported that a municipal councilor and son of the incumbent mayor confiscated RNG field reporter Lina Villaflor’s media identification cards issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.

Earlier, on April 22, the mayor had written the station requesting a copy of the radio broadcast aired that day, stating that the “false and malicious” statements made by the commentator could be a basis for his legal action against the station.

This is a form of censorship meant to intimidate the media into either silence or reporting eventually and issues in a manner acceptable to local government officials.

Subsequent direct attacks against the station have been reported, among them the barring of RNG reporters from covering the sessions of the Guimba Sangguniang Bayan. On May 19, the local police again barred an RNG reporter from covering the distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

All these are in violation of press freedom, and were apparently in response to RNG’s reports on the problematic implementation by the Guimba local government of the SAP.

RNG reported that several residents had trooped to their station to air complaints on the “selective” manner in which the cash aid is being distributed—that the municipality and its barangay officials were prioritizing rich farmers over small tillers.

RNG also reported that the local police have prevented them from taking photos and videos of people who trooped to the municipal hall to complain about the SAP implementation.

As much as it is the constitutional right of the people to air their grievances, it is also the constitutional right – and the primordial duty – of the press to report on these issues.

Local government executives should keep in mind that that the current national emergency does not empower officials to silence dissent and curtail press freedom, both of which are essential to a functional democracy in which elected officials are duty-bound to defend the Constitution. #

Reporting the people’s demands is not a crime

Altermidya.net

Information is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporting the people’s grievances and demands is the solemn duty of the media; it is not a crime.

The Guimba municipal council’s Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 52 s.2020 last May 11 empowered the mayor of the Nueva Ecija town to file criminal charges against radio network Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG) for alleged violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11469) by reporting the complaints of residents over the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Prior to the resolution, RNG reported that a municipal councilor and son of the incumbent mayor confiscated RNG field reporter Lina Villaflor’s media identification cards issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.

Earlier, on April 22, the mayor had written the station requesting a copy of the radio broadcast aired that day, stating that the “false and malicious” statements made by the commentator could be a basis for his legal action against the station.

This is a form of censorship meant to intimidate the media into either silence or reporting eventually and issues in a manner acceptable to local government officials.

Subsequent direct attacks against the station have been reported, among them the barring of RNG reporters from covering the sessions of the Guimba Sangguniang Bayan. On May 19, the local police again barred an RNG reporter from covering the distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

All these are in violation of press freedom, and were apparently in response to RNG’s reports on the problematic implementation by the Guimba local government of the SAP.

RNG reported that several residents had trooped to their station to air complaints on the “selective” manner in which the cash aid is being distributed—that the municipality and its barangay officials were prioritizing rich farmers over small tillers.

RNG also reported that the local police have prevented them from taking photos and videos of people who trooped to the municipal hall to complain about the SAP implementation.

As much as it is the constitutional right of the people to air their grievances, it is also the constitutional right – and the primordial duty – of the press to report on these issues.

Local government executives should keep in mind that that the current national emergency does not empower officials to silence dissent and curtail press freedom, both of which are essential to a functional democracy in which elected officials are duty-bound to defend the Constitution.

Radio station condemns threats and attacks from LGU

A Central Luzon radio station is condemning threats of criminal charges by local government officials using the government’s coronavirus emergency law.

In a statement, Radyo Natin-Guimba (RNG) in Nueva Ecija said the Guimba Municipal Council’s recent resolution authorizing mayor Jose Dizon to file charges against the radio station for alleged violations to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11469) is a direct violation to press freedom.

The station added that the Council’s move is also tantamount to the suppression of the people’s right to demand assistance and relief amid massive loss of livelihood resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ano ba ang masama at nalabag sa ginagawa ng Radyo Natin Guimba na isaboses ang tinig ng mamamayan, marinig ang kanilang apela, reklamo at daing habang sila ay nakakwarantina at hindi makapaghanapbuhay?” RNG asked. (What is wrong and what violation is committed by Radyo Natin Guimba when it only gives voice to the people in order for their appeals and complaints to be heard while they are under quarantine and are unable to work?)

RNG explained that because of the slow distribution of the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) by the LGU, many townsfolk went to their station to broadcast complaints.

Many of the complaints arose from reports that some SAP beneficiaries were rich farmers while many poor peasants have been left out, the station added.

“Ilang matanda, nagpapasusong ina , buntis, solo parent, at mahihirap na pamilya ang dumulog sa aming istasyon at kanilang inirereklamo ang mga Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), Day Care Workers, Kapitan at Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) sa pagpili ng bibigyan ng SAP,” RNG said. (Some elderly, lactating mothers, pregnant women, solo parents and poor families asked help through our station and complained of discrimination by Barangay health workers, day care workers, Barangay Chairperson and the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.)

RNG also said Guimba police also prevented them from taking photos and videos of people lining up to complain about being excluded from SAP.

Townsfolk crowd Guimba’s municipal hall during SAP distribution. (RNG photo)

Elderly complainants were holding up placards saying “Nasaan ang ayuda?” (Where is the assistance?) “Protektahan ang matatanda.” (Protect the elderly.) “Help us.” “Nagugutom na kami!” (We are already starving!) that the local police also threatened to file charges against, RNG said.

The police also took Ina Jo Colcol, a resident of Brangay Balingog East, and Dexter Eusebio of Barangay Sta. Veronica to the local police headquarters and ordered to delete their photos and videos last May 4, the station revealed.

A RNG field reporter was also prevented from taking photos and videos of the people who trooped to the municipal mayor’s office to appeal their SAP exclusion, the station revealed.

Townsfolk crowd Guimba’s municipal hall during SAP distribution. (RNG photo)

Other attacks on press freedom

Before the town council session last May 11, Municipal Councilor Bonbon Dizon, son of Mayor Dizon, confiscated RNG field reporter Lina Villaflor’s media identification cards issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office and the station and took photos of them, RNG reported.

The councilor passed the identification cards’ details to Nueva Ecija assessor OJ Manuel Cornejo via a phone call, RNG said.

It was at the May 11 session that the Council approved Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 52 s.2020 allowing the filing of criminal charges against RNG by the mayor.

In an emergency meeting of Guimba’s League of Barangay Chairpersons, Cornejo–reportedly a frequent presence at the mayor’s office while the head of a provincial government office–publicly declared the planned charges against RNG.

Last May 18, RNG’s reporter was told to leave the session room as the topic being discussed was “sensitive.”

Last May 19, local police again confronted a RNG reporter covering the distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

The police reportedly told the reporter to first seek a permit from Mayor Dizon.

“We will not agree to the harassment by the LGU. It is our duty to report truthfully and give the people accurate information as is their right. We do not agree that press freedom is a violation to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” RNG said in its statement.

LGU denies harassment

In a phone interview with Kodao, however, Guimba municipal information officer Sherwin Guiuo denied RNG’s allegation of harassment by the mayor and the council.

“The LGU acted on reports from barangay officials that some whose photos were posted online reacted negatively to RNG’s uploads. In the first place, they are not hungry as the LGU was in fact distributing relief,” Guiuo said.

The officer said the resolution is not harassment but obedience to RA 11469’s Section 6 on penalties.

Section 6’s item F orders penalties on “individuals or groups creating or perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the Covid-19 crisis on social media and other platforms.”

“The council is duty bound to give the mayor the authority to take such actions as provided by the law. The mayor in turn is duty-bound to implement the law,” Guiuo said.

‘Abusive’

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairperson Nonoy Espina however said the LGU’s actions and plans against RNG are abusive.

“The harassment of RNG and its staff by the Guimba LGU is a shameless trampling on freedom of the press and on the right of their own constituents to know what is happening in the municipality,” Espina said.

“This is clear abuse of authority that has no place in a democracy,” Espina added.

RNG is a member of both the Manila Broadcasting Company’s Radyo Natin project and People’s Alternative Media Network. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Video shows violent NutriAsia dispersal instigated by guards

Using Philippine National Police shields, NutriAsia guards attacked the striking workers and their supporters in the violent dispersal at Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

In this video by Radyo Natin-Guimba reporter Jek Alcaraz, the workers and their supporters were asking the guards not to use their truncheons but were viciously attacked nonetheless.

Alcaraz was told by guards to go behind them, but was later hit on her lower right thigh by a truncheon-flailing guard during the melee.

The workers tried to defend themselves with placards as shield and later threw back a few stones and pieces of wood in retaliation but were easily overpowered by the aggressive guards.

The video later showed Alcaraz momentarily trapped inside the strikers’ makeshift hut but was able to retreat to a safe distance after instructing a woman to go through a gap in a barbwire fence.

Ang pamamaril sa mga magsasaka ng Sto Domingo, Nueva Ecija

Ni Jek Alcaraz, Radyo Natin-Guimba

Nagko-cover ako ng kilos protesta ng mga magsasaka sa Baloc, Sto Domingo, Nueva Ecija noong Miyerkules, Abril 25.

Umaga pa lang, mga 9 am, nasa munisipyo na ako para i-cover ang pakikipagharap ng mga magsasaka kay Sto. Domingo mayor Imee de Guzman at chief of police PSupt Abraham Atencio. Inireklamo nila ang gabi-gabing pagpapaputok ng baril ng mga tauhan ng pamilya Jimenez mula sa loob ng kanilang compound. Dagdag pa, layunin din ng mga magsasaka na mag-protesta sa pagbabakod ng mga Jimenez sa 17 ektarya na lupa kung saan tatlong ektarya doon ay may tanim pang palay na kailangan nang anihin.

Dahil may sarili akong motorsiklo, nauna na ako sa area, sa tapat lang ng compound ng mga Jimenez. Ipinarada ko sa tabi ng kalsada ang aking motorsiklo. Kalaunan, doon din huminto ang bulto ng mga nagpo-protestang magsasaka.

Nag-video ako at saka ko nakita ang mga tao sa compound. Marami sila at kasama ang landlord na si Romulo Sangalang Jimenez at kanyang anak na si Jonjon.

Naisip ko agad, “Gulo ito.” Kaya inilihis ko muna ang aking motorsiklo. Saka ko nakita ang dalawang lalaki na papalapit sa bakod sa tabi ng kalsada. Hindi pa ako nakakababa at hindi ko pa napapatay ang makina nang narinig ko na ang putukan. Nakita kong nag-dapaan na ang mga magsasaka. Tiyak akong may nasugatan dahil nasa kabila lamang ng kalsada nanggagaling ang maraming putok.

I-click ito para mapanood ang video.

Screengrab mula sa video.

Tumakbo ako agad sa harap ng bulto para ma-video-han ko ang namamaril. Nakuhanan ko pang nagpaputok ang dalawang lalaki. Nakita ko ring naroon lang sa malapit ang mag-amang Romulo at Jonjon, pinapanood ang pamamaril. Nakita ko na tumakbo na iyong mga namaril papasok ng compound.

Nasugatan sa pamamaril ay si Virginia Galapon Guiang, 65 taong gulang. Tinamaan siya sa hita ng bala ng M16. Kasalukuyan siyang ginagamot sa PJG Hospital sa Cabanatuan City. Dinaplisan din ng bala ng kalibre .45 si Mariafe Orbido Magbanua, 46 years old. Namaga raw ang kanyang sugat kaya kailangan na ring iconfine sa hospital.

Unang naisip ko matapos ang pamamaril ay tumawag na ng pulis, kaya tinawagan ko ang hepe na si PSupt Atencio. Pagdating nila matapos ang limang minuto, hinabol nila iyong isang tricycle na tumatakas.

Lumapit si Jonjon Jimenez. Gusto niyang makausap ang mga pulis. Lumapit ako sa kanya upang tanungin kung puwede ba siyang magbigay ng pahayag tungkol sa pamamaril at kung mga tauhan ba nila ang mga iyon. Tinanong niya ako: “Sino ka ba?” Sinagot ko sya na media ako mula Radyo Natin Guimba. Sinabi niyang huwag ko siyang interbyuhin sa mismong lugar na iyon. Dinagdag niyang sa loob daw kami ng compound para “neutral at walang biases. Ilang beses niya akong kinunan ng litrato at video.

Makikitang nasa likod lamang ng namaril si Romulo Sangalang Jimenez na nakasuot ng kulay-rosas na tshirt. (Screengrab mula sa video)

Pagkatapos, ang mga pulis naman ang nagtanong kung kung nakuhanan ko ba yung pamamaril. Ang sabi ko, meron akong footage. Pagkatapos, ini-screen shot namin ang aking kuha ng mga suspect. Saka pumasok ang mga pulis sa loob ng compound para sa hot pursuit. Humarang si Sangalang Jimenez, dahil wala raw ebidensiyang sa loob ng compound tumuloy ang mga namaril. Sinabi pang itinanim lang ng mga magsasaka ang mga basyo ng bala.

Sinabi ng pulis na may actual video kaya huwag na sana siyang magkaila. Tinawag ako palapit doon sa kanila para sabihin sa may ari ng compound na may ebidensya. Sa pangalawang beses,. tinanong ako ni Jonjon kung sino ako at anong ginagawa ko sa lugar. Sinabi ko ulit na media ako at nagko-cover ako ng protesta. Tinanong ako ng pulis kung kaya kong mai-dentify ang suspect. Sabi ko, batay sa video na kuha ko, kaya kong i-identify iyon.

Muling nagtanong si Jonjon na paano ko raw ma-identify ang mga lalaking namaril kung wala naman ako sa actual event. Sinagot ko siya na kitang kita ng dalawang mata ko ang nangyari. Sinabi niyang media lang ako at walang karapatang mag-identify kung sino ang namaril. Dagdag niya: “Patunayan mo sa court ang mga sinasabi mo. Huwag dito dahil hindi ito iyung lugar. Kung gusto niyong mahuli ang mga tauhan ko, kailangan ay may hearing muna. Mag-file kayo ng warrant of arrest at ng search warrant para mahalughog nyo itong compound ko.”  Sumagot ako na naroon ako mismo sa pangyayari upang mag-cover ng protesta. Maaring isa ako sa pwedeng naging biktima kung hindi ako nakatabi dahil inilalayo ko ang aking motorsiklo.

Sinabihan na ako ni Jonjon matapos ang aming palitan ng salita na hindi ako pwede sa compound nila at wala akong karapatang mag-cover. Ipinagtulakan niya ako palabas ng gate. Nakita ng mga pulis. Sinabi ng PSupt Atencio: “Huwag mo namang itulak-tulak. Hindi naman na maganda iyan.”

Saka ako inakbayan ni Jonjon at sinabihang, “Umalis ka na rito.” Sinagot ko sya: “Bakit ako aalis, media ako at kailangan kong i-cover ang mga nangyayari?” Subalit iginiit niyang palabasin ako. Lumabas ako subalit matapos ang ilang minuto, ipinatawag ulit ako ni PSupt Atencio upang ituro sa mga inipon nilang mga tao kung sino ang namumukhaan ko. Itinuro ko ang salarin. Nagwala na ang mag-amang Jimenez. Hindi raw makukuha ang mga tauhan nila.  Naghihilahan sila at ang mga pulis sa suspect.

Dahil hindi makuha ang suspect, pinosasan na lang siya sa tricycle. Hinintay namin ang pagdating ng Provincial Director ng Nueva Ecija PNP na si PSSupt Eliseo Tanding. Pagdating niya, ipina-halughog niya ang buong paligid. Unang nakita ang isang 9mm na pistol na nakabalot ng tela sa may sukal. Sumunod ang isang shotgun na nakalagay sa sako na naka-suksok lang din. Iginiit ni Jonjon na planted ang mga ito at hindi sa kanila ang mga baril.

I-click ito para mapanood ang ikalawang video.

Ang mag-amang JImenez (Romulo, na naka-suot ng kulay rosas, at Jonjon, na naka-asul).

Habang kinukunan ko ang aktwal na pagkita sa shotgun, tinanong ulit ako ni Jonjon: “Ano ka ba dito? Official media ka ba ng mga pulis?” Sinabi ko sa kanya: “Obligado ba akong sagutin iyan. Media ako, hindi pa ba sapat iyon? Sabi niya ulit: “Aba! Pamamahay ko ito. Nandito ka sa bakuran ko. Dapat alam ko kung sino ang pinapa-pasok ko.” Sumagot ang hepe: “Siya ang nandito. Hindi na kailangan ng official media from PNP at siya na iyong nakasaksi ng mga kaganapan.”

Inimbitahan ako sa Provincial Office ng Nueva Ecija PNP upang magbigay ng salaysay. Nagtalaga ng tatlong pulis para sa aking seguridad. # (Jek Alcaraz, Radyo Natin-Guimba)

Radyo Natin-Guimba serves as model for new community radio stations in the Philippines

Radyo Nation-Guimba (RNG) expressed support for Kodao Productions’ ongoing women-led disaster risk reduction community radio station project in Eastern Visayas with assurances of technical support and competencies.

As one of the most successful and dynamic community radio stations in the country, RNG shared its expertise in establishing an alternative media outfit in the countryside during Kodao’s visit to Guimba last January 14. They were joined by Mr. Ramon Palima Ramirez, a top Filipino electrical engineer and a veteran alternative media practitioner.

IMG_4330

Photo: (L-R) Romie Malonzo, Juan Manuel Herrera, Gie Herrera, Jola Diones-Mamangun, Raymund Villanueva, Engr. Ramon Ramirez and Reggie Mamangun

Kodao visited RNG to study its broadcast and equipment set-up as part of the former’s preparations for the DRR community radio station project in Tacloban City.

The project is supported by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT).

RNG station manager Gie Herrera said that community support is vital in their success over difficulties on matters such as constructing a broadcast tower and popularizing their programs.

RADYO NATIN GUIMBA.Still001

Gie Herrera, Founding member and Station Manager of Radyo Natin Guimba

“When we started in 2004, we explained our objectives to the communities and offered broadcast time to peasants, women, youth, senior citizens, and local entrepreneurs. They responded by patronizing our programs when they realized that this radio stations is for them,” Herrera said.

“We even received technical assistance from the community in putting up our broadcast tower that has withstood strong typhoons this past decade,” she added.

RNG also conducted medical and relief missions during calamities as well feeding programs for schoolchildren as an extension program that further endeared them to the communities.

Aside from their popular local news and public service programs, RNG gained further listenership base when it started broadcasting programs on local culture anchored by both the youth and elderly.

“We try to fill the gap between mass media and the people. We try our best to show the people that mass media should genuinely be in the service of the community,” Herrera said.

RNG is also one of the first community radio stations that broadcast through a local cable TV network.

“May our successes serve as model for the establishment of more community radio stations in the country,” Herrera said.

In the same visit, RNG also expressed interest in joining IAWRT Philippines. RNG’s staff is 80 percent women, including its top management. #