CHR conducts own probe on threats vs journalists in Pampanga

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) started its own probe into reports that journalists were threatened while covering the demolition activities in Sitio Balubad, Barangay Anunas in Angeles City last Tuesday, March 12.

One of the journalists, Rowena Quejada of K5 News Olongapo, has been reported missing after the incident at Clarkhills Properties Corporation.

Another incident reported through Alisto! Alert Mechanism, a platform set up by the CHR for the reporting of threats and violence against journalists, stated that a member of the demolition team pointed a gun at Joann Manabat, reporter of Rappler Luzon, while she was taking videos.

Citing reports, the CHR said that while threats were being aired against Quejada, the armed men took her cellular telephone, bag, and wallet and also called the media “demonyo” (demon).

At the same time, the CHR has taken cognizance of the reports that the violent demolition also injured several residents in the area.

“We also remind all involved parties during the demolition incident to caution against the use of any violent force against civilians and media workers alike,” the CHR said.

“We also take note of the swift action of the Angeles City government for condemning the said violent demolition and for pressing charges against the armed demolition team. We echo the call of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines for the Angeles City police and the local government to conduct their respective probe in order to immediately address this matter,” it added.

As an independent human rights institution, the CHR has been openly condemning all acts of violence against journalists. It pointed out that violence against members of the media “negatively impact the situation of press freedom in the country and may lead the Philippine democracy towards decay.”

“We stress the crucial role of the media in the upkeep of the information flow across all Filipinos -- any threats which may deter them from fulfilling their duty is a clear violation of the freedom of the press,” the CHR said.