THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP - Davao Chapter) condemns the Philippine National Police Davao City Chief Colonel Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa for arrogance and harassment of members of the media during the coverage of the typhoon Pablo victims’ three-day barricade at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-XI).
Karlos Manlupig, Davao-based photojournalist and correspondent of Philippine Daily Inquirer was hit and pushed away by police out of the DSWD office as he was interviewing typhoon survivors whom they detained.
Manlupig was intimidated by truncheon-wielding police why he was interviewing survivors and not taking the side of the injured police. Even as Manlupig explained he had taken their side, he was shoved by the police with their clubs and shields, his face hitting the gates in the process.
To add insult to injury, PNP Davao Chief dela Rosa scolded Manlupig in public, saying, "You're in a middle of a commotion, so don't expect special treatment!"
On Thursday morning, as barricaders were preparing to leave after an agreement with DSWD was reached, online news Davao Today reporter Irene Dagudog also got to face dela Rosa's brashness.
Dagudog tried to get an interview with the police chief when he instead confronted her and asked, "Are you neutral? If you blush, you are not."
Such arrogance and disrespect by dela Rosa towards members of the press is condemnable. His attitude is reflective on the whole Davao City police personnel who actually treated people in the same manner as they beat up the barricaders indiscriminately including women and children. There were accounts that police even fondled and stripped women protesters.
May we remind the police chief that our duty as journalists may entail our risks to be beaten up in scuffles, but it does not warrant him to treat us with disdain and intimidation. Besides, it is improbable for police not to recognize the media, as in the case of Manlupig, who was wearing a press ID, and bringing his big camera.
For how can we perform our duties the next time involving police matters, when our tasks of taking the side of victims are already pre-branded as biased? Or when hurt in a melee, we can merely be brushed aside, scolded and blamed for being in the thick of things? A brute police force is the last thing we need in this situation.
The act of dela Rosa only shows how far worse state authorities have gone when it comes to respecting basic freedoms and civil liberties, a shame for so-called “protectors of the people.”