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.
continued to throw punches, but Labalan dodged those until onlookers pulled the
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
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
Alipala, also a member of the NUJP national directorate, seemingly with
intent to threaten or harm her.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0918
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