NUJP urges PNP to make impartial investigation of phone snatching incident

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hanah Tabios 

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to make an impartial investigation into the “Traslacion” phone snatching incident involving GMA 7 reporter Jun Veneracion and Southern Police District (SPD) chief Brig. Gen. Nolasco Bathan.

(photo courtesy of NUJP Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Photo Courtesy of NUJP Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement released Friday, NUJP demanded that the organization, which will conduct a probe into the incident, to carry out the task swiftly and impartially and levy appropriate sanctions against Bathan if he is proven guilty.

“Anything less can only bolster the growing perception that our law enforcers are also the primary lawbreakers,” NUJP said.

The statement came after Veneracion narrated on his personal Facebook account how Bathan abused his police power when he forcibly snatched Veneracion’s mobile phone while he was covering the event and ordered his men to delete the footages the journalist had captured.

“Worse, he tried to justify his actions with a barefaced lie,” NUJP added.

Veneracion also shared through social media the actual video footage of the incident and narrated how it unfolded.

“While taking footage on my phone of a commotion between cops and a hapless Black Nazarene devotee on Ayala Bridge in Manila, a police general suddenly darted out of nowhere and snatched my mobile unit. He quickly moved away from the scene,” he said.

The veteran journalist said he was later accosted by another policeman to prevent him from going after the one-star general who took away his phone whom, at that time, he did not recognize.

With the help of some photo journalists stationed at the same area, Veneracion found out that the culprit was Bathan, a former police chief of the Eastern Police District (EPD) later reassigned to the SPD.

In his attempt to approach Bathan, Veneracion was surprised by the general’s reaction.

“He was fuming mad,” he said, adding that Bathan threatened to confiscate the hand-held radio he was using to file situational broadcast updates since telecommunications signals were jammed for the duration of the Traslacion.

At Friday’s post-Traslacion press briefing, the entire police organization sent apologies to Veneracion through PNP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac.

Bathan also spoke about the incident and did the same. However, he said he had mistaken Veneracion as a “threat” carrying a grenade.

“Ang akala ko (I thought) he poses threat. Kahit granada ‘yon kukuhain ko ‘yon (Even if it were a grenade, I’d still take it) to save lives,” he said.

He also denied the journalist’s accusation that he deleted the video footage from the mobile phone.

But Veneracion had earlier pointed out that he was able to recover the material through his phone’s “recently deleted album,” where the latter part of the recording revealed that a voice was instructing someone to remove the video.

“Burahin mo, burahin mo kuha ni Jun Veneracion. Pu#!#! ina nagku-kwan eh,” he narrated.

(Erase it, erase the footage Jun Veneracion took. *expletive* He’s meddling.)

NUJP said such behavior was not only an assault to press freedom but also a clear case of violating the journalist’s right as a citizen.

Consequently, media workers from various organizations joined NUJP’s call to impose sanctions against Bathan.

“Such behavior not only makes a mockery of the policeman’s oath to “Serve and Protect.” If unpunished, it can only add to the worsening impunity that has marked the general breakdown of the rule of law in this country,” NUJP added.

But National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Debold Sinas said on Friday that Bathan will not be relieved from his post.

READ MORE: PNP general apologizes for phone-snatching incident

READ MORE: Press groups ask PNP, concerned gov’t agencies, to discipline police general in phone-snatching incident