SPD chief’s ‘thug-like’ behavior an attack on press freedom
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) Press Corps denounced on Friday the “thug-like” behavior of Southern Police District (SPD) director Brig. Gen. Nolasco Bathan, who confiscated the cellphone of GMA reporter Jun Veneracion and allegedly deleted the latter’s video of policemen dragging a Black Nazarene devotee to the ground during Thursday’s Traslacion.
In a statement, the press corps described Bathan’s actions as “not only an attack on press freedom but also tramples on the rights” of Veneracion as a Filipino citizen.
“We understand the stress and pressure brought by the long preparation and the situation on the ground during the incident, but General Bathan’s thug-like attitude in front of his men is plain and simple conduct unbecoming of a PNP member, of a police general,” it said.
The press corps, expressing “serious concern” on the behavior of the police official, stressed that both press freedom and basic rights of Filipinos are “enshrined in the Constitution that the government, which General Bathan represents, vows to uphold and protect.”
“Undeniably, journalists have been the PNP’s partner in disseminating information on the regular progress of the security preparations for the Black Nazarene procession. They do not deserve to be treated that way for doing their job,” the media group further said.
The press corps, meanwhile, said it appreciates the action of the PNP for investigating the incident, as well as Bathan “for being man enough” to apologize to Veneracion.
“The history of the PNP includes mutual respect and understanding of the police and the press, as both have long recognized that they have an obligation to do for the Filipino people. There must not be misunderstanding and quarrel on that,” the press corps noted.
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