Journalist Assaulted in the Philippines

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National

Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in condemning the assault of a

journalist by the brother of a local Mayor in Sorsogon City, Luzon province in

the Philippines on September 23.

 

According to NUJP reports,

Sorsogon Now Editor and GMA-7 Stringer

Roberto “Bobby” Labalan was punched in the face outside a local coffee shop

that is frequented by journalists in Sorsogon City by Joseph "Nono"

Yap III, brother of Prieto Diaz town Mayor Joeclyn Yap-Lelis.

 

Labalan was reportedly speaking with media personnel and government

officials outside the coffee shop at 7:15 a.m. on September 23, when Yap

approached him and said, “Nano kay tinira mo ko sa dyaryo (Why did you attack

me in the paper?” then punched him, grazing him on the left cheek.

 

Yap

continued to throw punches, but Labalan dodged those until onlookers pulled the

attacker away.

 

Among those who

witnessed the incident was Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee.

 

According to Labalan, the assault

may have been related to an article published in Sorsogon Now, which raised questions about a road project in Prieto

Diaz under the government’s Payapa at Masaganang Mamamamayan (Peaceful

and Prosperous People/PAMANA) project, of which Yap is the contractor.

In the article, which ran on August 7, alleged irregularities about the

project’s outcome were exposed when the outcome of Yap’s project, which cost Peso

300 million and yielded a 500-meter road, was compared to one in another town

with the same budget that resulted in  a

700-meter road and a line canal.

Labalan, a member of NUJP’s national

directorate is reported to have filed an incident report before the Philippine

National Police in Sorsogon City.

 

“Acts of retaliation

against media reporting in the public interest are of serious concern and highlight

the incredibly dangerous nature of reporting in the Philippines” said IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.

 

We stand with the

NUJP in

calling on the authorities in Sorsogon province to ensure the safety of Labalan

and to immediately investigate Yap in relation to the attack.

 

According to the NUJP, this is

the second time Yap has assaulted a journalist.

 

Reports state that he may also

have been armed when he assaulted Labalan.

 

The attack came just over a week

after two motorcycle-riding men went to the house of Philippine Daily Inquirer

reporter Julie

Alipala, also a member of the NUJP national directorate, seemingly with

intent to threaten or harm her.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find

the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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