A ranking official of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is now in hot water after he was reportedly heard saying that members of media who write “negative” stories about the agency should face “tokhang,” the government’s anti-drug campaign.
On his Facebook page, Joel Egco, executive secretary of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, said he was verifying a “horrible joke” made by an MMDA official after a journalist reported the incident to him.
“A reporter I have known for years brought this to my attention. Before I publicly call on the official and lecture him on [Administrative] Order No. 1, or ‘red flag’ him for such a horrible joke, I’d like to ask other reporters who were there to verify via PM (private message) to me. [M]y informant claimed they felt the chill,” Egco said.
Signed in October last year, AO 1 created the presidential task force on violations of the right to life, liberty and security of the members of the media.
On Wednesday afternoon, MMDA assistant general manager for planning Jojo Garcia called for a press briefing to give updates on the policies agreed upon during the Metro Manila Council held the previous day.
Before the briefing started and as reporters settled down at the conference room inside Chair Danilo Lim’s office, Garcia joked around with reporters and told them of certain members of media who write “nega” stories about the MMDA.
Reporters, including this writer, repeatedly asked Garcia to whom he was he referring to. Instead of responding, he ranted about supposed negative stories written about the agency. At one point, he threatened to include those who put the agency in a bad light on the administration’s drug list.
“Nasaan na yung 45 ko,” Garcia said, referring to a cal. 45 pistol. “Ipatokhang natin yan,” he added.
Since the briefing had not formally started yet, none of the print and online reporters present were able to record his veiled threat against journalists.
Among those in the room who heard Garcia’s threat were reporters from the Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Rappler, Philippine News Agency and TV5.
Given the spate of journalist killings in the country, Egco said the statement was “worse than a bomb joke.”
The threat was not the first time that the MMDA official crossed the line.
In several previous briefings, Garcia interrupted his statements when an attractive reporter came in. He made cat-calls at female reporters and interns and asked if they were in a relationship.
When reporters would call out his actions, he would often brush them off and say that he was only joking. /cbb