PNP relieves 2 cops for allegedly harassing 3 reporters in Leyte
MANILA, Philippines — Two police officers who allegedly harassed three members of the press in Leyte following a land dispute have been relieved from their posts, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP)
Earlier, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) alleged harassment occurred on July 14 during an interview between San Juanico TV reporters Lito Bagunas, Noel Sianosa, Ted Tomas and agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Jones in Pastrana.
Based on the video posted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Sianosa was seen getting pushed by Police Staff Sergeant Rhea Baleos, who was said to be stopping the three reporters from interviewing the beneficiaries. Minutes later, several gunshots were heard in the background from an unknown source.
VIDEO🎥: Staff Sargeant Rhea Mae Baleos pushes Noel Sianosa away while covering a land dispute in Barangay Jones, Pastrana, Leyte, July 14. 3 reporters survive shooting incident in Pastrana, Leyte pic.twitter.com/MxP1GZO03D
— NUJP (@nujp) July 15, 2023
Following the harassment incident, police said on Saturday evening that Baleos and her husband, Staff Sergeant Ver Baleos, were relieved from their duties.
They turned over firearms and will undergo a gunpowder residue examination.
“Initial investigation disclosed that the incident stemmed from a land dispute between Mr. Moises Empillo and Anecita Nogal with her husband, Mr. Virgilio Nogal. Mr. Empillo claimed to be the owner of the rice field co-located at the said place, while Mr. and Mrs. Nogal also claimed to be the rightful owner of it,” PNP said in a statement.
“The said rice field was mortgaged to PSSg Baleos in 2017. During the dispute, PSSg Baleos called the Pastrana MPS for assistance. An argument ensued between PSSg Baleos and Mrs. Anecita Nogal pertaining to the legality of possessing the said rice field. As they were arguing, Mr. Noel Sianosa allegedly was taking video footage capturing the said argument prompting PSSg Baleos to call the attention of Mr. Sianosa, and the two had a commotion,” it added.
PNP disclosed that the provincial investigation team has started probing the incident.
“We are still investigating the incident, and rest assured that we will not be biased. If proven that our personnel have truly committed all the accusations, our Office will not tolerate such misconduct,” PNP said.
“While we highly recognize the role of the media men in the delivery of impartial and factual information to the general public, we also do our best to protect their rights and safety. We likewise welcome those who have witnessed the incident to give us more information which will help beef up our investigation. For the immediate resolution of the case,” it added.