IFJ Rejects Dismissal of Assault Case in the Philippines

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for the immediate reversal of a decision

to dismiss a complaint made against Camiguin Island Governor Jurdin

Jesus Romualdo by four former media workers on June 10, 2010.

 

According to reports from IFJ

affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the

Philippines (NUJP),

a panel of three prosecutors dismissed the complaint on May 11 after a

preliminary investigation found there was insufficient evidence to support its

claims.

 

The complaint was made by Alphyn Cabañog, Algin

Lobino, Herbert Hugo Dumaguing and Hubert Dumaguing after an alleged attack in Camiguin Island,

in the Southern Philippines on May

9, 2010, the day before the Philippines

presidential election. The men allegedly recorded video evidence of what

appeared to be vote-buying by supporters of Catarman, Camiguin mayor Nestor

Jacot, a

known supporter of Romualdo,

 

The complaint claimed Romualdo and

Jacot had illegally detained, threatened, and robbed the four men, and violated

of Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, which relates to the carrying of

firearms during an election period. The prosecutors also questioned the

legitimacy of the four men’s status as media workers, calling them “guns for hire.”

 

By contrast, a case filed against Herbert

Hubert Dumaguing for trespass by Joseph Bitas, a supporter of Jacot, is now at

trial. Bitas alleges Dumaguing entered his house when filming the alleged

vote-buying.

 

“The IFJ is concerned that an

alleged assault on the media can be so easily dismissed by prosecutors, and

that their credibility be called into question in this way,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.  

 

“It is equally worrying that the

counter-claim againstHerbert Hubert Dumaguing continues to be

prosecuted in the courts.”

 

Meanwhile, the IFJ shares NUJP concerns about reports that the alleged

plotters of the Ampatuan Town Massacre are receiving special treatment while incarcerated

at Camp Bagong Diwa, in Taguig

City, Metro Manila.

 

According to local media reports

Andal Ampatuan Sr., who is one of the key suspects in the November 23, 2009

massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, is able to move freely inside

the high-security prison. The NUJP

welcomed the dismissal of warden Glenford Valdepenas and other prison staff who

are alleged to have offered Ampatuan “VIP treatment” in the prison.

 

A series of photos emerged on May 26

in which Ampatuan is seen talking on a mobile phone, receiving a massage and

visits by a group of up to 13 people, according to a report on ABS-CBNNews.com.

 

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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