Journalist choked by vice-mayor in southern Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) strongly criticize the physical attack on a journalist in Surigao City, in the southern Philippines on Saturday, September 23, 2017. The IFJ demand an investigation into the incident.

On Saturday, Edito Mapayo the editor-in-chief of Diaryo Balita, a local Surigao City newspaper, was choked and punched by Surigao del Norte Vice Mayor Francisco Matugas Gonzales. Mapayo was covering a Department of Health event at the Pilar District Hospital. He told NUJP that he was at the venue to cover the event when Gonzales arrived, saw him, and immediately punched him in the neck. Mapayo then said he ran to his colleagues for cover and to evade further attack, but the vice mayor was able to choke the newsman with his left hand.

“I thought he would talk to me when he approached me. I did not know that his hands would target me. Good thing it was not that bad because I was able to fend off the attack,” Mapayo told NUJP over the phone.

The attack only stopped when Mapayo’s colleagues pushed the vice-mayor away. Mapayo told NUJP that he and Gonzale’s have had issues in the past. Mapayo, who is currently in hiding out of fear for his life, had undergone medical check-up and would soon file a blotter report and physical injury charge against Gonzales.

The IFJ said: “This attack is a blatant attempt to silence Mapayo and other critical voices in the Philippines. The vice-mayor should be immediately investigated for his attack, and police should provide security for Mapayo until the matter is resolved. Journalists in the Philippines operate in a climate of fear, with high levels of attacks and killings, which raise serious questions and concerns about their safety on the job.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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