Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel harassed three members of the media on Tuesday morning while the reporters were covering a protest rally of groups Hustisya and Selda at Gate 2 of Malacañang.
Veteran radio reporter Aya Yupangco of dwIZ, Dennis Datu of dzMM and Michael Goyagoy of dzXL were reporting what was happening at the rally at about 9:20 a.m. when PSG men grabbed their radio gadgets, including cellular phones and identification cards, ordering them to erase the recorded video.
Datu said the PSG men in civilian clothes confiscated his smartphone and ID.
He added that they even continued to harass him even though he was already inside the crew vehicle.
Goyagoy said one PSG man even grabbed his leg, demanding him to surrender his cellphone and erase what was recorded.
Yupangco had undergone the same harassment similar to what the two had experienced.
The three media men were asked by their respective companies to submit their separate incident reports.
The Manila City Hall Press Club president, Doris France, condemned the incident, saying radio reporters were merely covering the rally of the militant groups that were urging President Rodrigo Duterte to continue with peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDFP).
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Joel Egco of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) issued a statement, saying the incident is under investigation.
He assured reporters, especially those covering action-packed rallies of militant groups, of their security.
“My attention was called by this incident this morning and immediately, I gave instructions through my staff for the PSG to act on the matter and investigate to determine whether or not there was a violation of Administrative Order 1. While it can be noted that the alleged manhandling was not spontaneous because there was a prior commotion when the protesters managed to enter the compound complete with their placards, we should nevertheless probe how and why the incident led to this,” Egco said.
“There should be no physical contact especially when a journalist is just doing his job. It is unfortunate that such incident happened on our doorstep, more reason for PTFoMS to look into it and probably seek a review of certain protocols. We will hear both sides and come out with updates and recommendations the soonest. Such case falls within our mandate. However, again, please bear with us as we continue to work on a zero budget and office and still lack sufficient personnel to operate in full swing. We are still experiencing some birth pains but we are working on a handful of cases already,” he added.
National Press Club president Paul Gutierrez also condemned the incident, saying reporters, just like anybody, should not be harmed when covering any event. JAIME R. PILAPIL