Film-makers target of police intimidation in Quezon City, Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in questioning the brazen harassment by police personnel of the organiser of a film screening event at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani shrine, Quezon City, Manila.On February 28, a group of filmmakers, including JL Burgos, the son of press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr, hosted  ‘Sine Henerasyon’ a film screening event. The event featured documentaries like JL Burgos’ Portraits of Mosquito Press, which documents the struggle to assert press freedom during the Marcos dictatorship, Ilang-Ilang Quijano’s Daughters of Cordillera, about activists among the Philippines’ indigenous Igorot peopleand Ej Mijares’ Shapes of Crimsom, a film about a veteran artist and cultural activist Bonifacio Ilagan.At 10am on February 28, a patrol from the Quezon City Police District Station arrived at the venue and questioned staff about the event and its organisers. They claimed they needed to ‘sweep’ the venue for a VIP guest. Two officers with assault rifles remained behind after the search. At around 4.30pm, a second group of police arrived and further questioned organisers if the films were about the New People’s Army. They also left two officers behind when they departed. At 8pm a third patrol car arrived at the venue and officers grilled staff again about the event’s organisers. When Burgos’ and the other filmmakers confronted the officers, they did not explain their motives and left shortly after.NUJP Chairperson, Rowena Paraan said: “By lying about the reason for their presence in the first instance and the questions they asked when they returned that afternoon, it was clear that the QCPD personnel were out to intimidate the organisers of what, to them, probably constituted a “subversive” activity that shouldn’t have been allowed at all.”“We demand that the QCPD, at the very least, apologize to the ‘Sine Henerasyon’ organisers. But to ensure that such a display of official arrogance is never repeated, we call on the leadership of the Philippine National Police to live up to their oaths and investigate posthaste the actions of the QCPD personnel and impose the appropriate sanctions on those responsible for this ill-conceived attempt to stifle free expression” said NUJP.The IFJ joins the NUJP and calls on the Quezon City Police to issue an apology for the police intimidation at the ‘Sine Henerasyon’ event and to investigate the actions of the police in the matter.

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