PDEA slammed for berating reporter who took photos of buy-bust | Inquirer News

PDEA slammed for berating reporter who took photos of buy-bust

But agency says journalist took photos of agents without face covers and did not wear ID at scene
/ 11:41 PM July 28, 2016

PDEA agents usually give media limited access to crime scenes so they can take their shots and do interviews. (RADYO INQUIRER)

PDEA agents usually give media limited access to crime scenes so they can take their shots and do interviews. (RADYO INQUIRER)

ILOILO CITY — Media groups in Iloilo deplored agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Western Visayas who accosted and berated a television reporter after she took photographs of a drug buy-bust operation.

In separate statements, the Iloilo Press Club (IPC), Iloilo Provincial Capitol Press Corp (IPCPC) and the Iloilo chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on the PDEA to investigate its agents for accosting Rena Manubag-Dago-on of IBC TV 13.


The groups also demanded a public apology from the PDEA.


But the PDEA said they accosted Dago-on because they did not know her and she was not wearing a press identification card while taking photographs.

“The photographs showed the faces of several of our agents who did not wear face covers. We were merely protecting our agents because the photographs could be used to get back at us and our families by drug lords or pushers,” David Abraham Garcia, PDEA 6 information officer, told the INQUIRER.

Manubag said she was berated and threatened in front of bystanders after she took photographs of a PDEA operation in Barangay El 98 in Jaro District on Wednesday.

She said she was driving her car with her six-year-old daughter and chanced upon the operation and saw several armed persons in civilian clothes near a person who appeared to be handcuffed.

Sensing a possible news story, she got off her vehicle and took photographs with her mobile phone.

Dago-on, who has long been covering the police and military beats, said she approached several PDEA agents to get more details and information but was surprised when she was accosted and one of the agents grabbed her cellular phone and deleted the photographs.


They said she might have been an accomplice of the suspect.

The agents who confronted Dago-on had face covers up to their eyes.  They castigated her for endangering their lives with the photographs.

Dago-on said the PDEA agents continued to scold her even if she had identified herself as a reporter and wife of Supt. Salvador Dago-on, chief of the Iloilo City Police Office Intelligence Unit.

“Wala kaming pakialam kung media ka (We don’t care if you’re a media person),” said one of the male agents, according to Dago-on.

Two male and two female agents also refused to let her go to her vehicle to get her identification card. They also threatened to file an obstruction of justice case against her.

“I was trembling because they were treating me as a suspect. My daughter who was in the car across the street also saw what was happening” she told the INQUIRER.

Garcia said the agents became tensed because Dago-on took pictures without first informing the agents and introducing herself.

“Our agents did not know her and were also unfamiliar with IBC as a television station so they continued to question her,” Garcia said.

He alleged that Dago-on also challenged one of the female agents to a fight and gun duel, a claim denied by Dago-on.

PDEA Western Visayas director Gil Pabilona has directed the agents to submit an incident report, Garcia said.

The media organizations said the actions of the PDEA agents were uncalled for. “Granting for the sake of argument that she may have unwittingly interfered in an ongoing operation, is it justified for PDEA agents to berate and humiliate her in public? Were harsh words necessary to caution her to be careful in entering an active crime scene or operation?” Francis Allan Angelo, IPC president, said.

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“While we understand that there are security considerations in covering police operations, the behavior displayed by the agents was unwarranted and intolerable especially after Ms Dago-on clearly identified herself as a member of the press,” Glenda Sologastoa, NUJP-Iloilo chairperson, said.  SFM

TAGS: berating, complaint, Crime, drug pushing, Drug trafficking, endangerment, harassment, IBC 13, Intimidation, IPCPC, Journalism, journalists, Justice, law, Media, media groups, News, PDEA, protest, Regions, reporters, scolding, Security, Surveillance, threat

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