Media group denounces violence vs journo during 'Manibela' rally

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Radio reporter Val Gonzales is covering a protest of 'Manibela' when he is allegedly punched by members of the transport group in Quezon City on June 10, 2024. (Courtesy of DZRH)

A group of media practitioners covering the country’s defense and national security condemned the acts of violence against a radio reporter who was allegedly punched by members of transport group "Manibela" during a protest in Quezon City on Monday morning, June 10.

Mr. Val Gonzales, a reporter for radio station DZRH, said he was hit by members of Manibela while covering the first day of the three-day protest of the transport group against the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program in front of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) along East Avenue around 9 a.m.

“The emotions and perceptions stemming from whatever our colleague reported is never a justification to subject a journalist to physical harm,” the Defense Press Corps (DPC) said in a statement.

The Camp Aguinaldo-based media group called on the organizers and leaders of the protesters to “restrain their members and respect the freedom and rights of the free press.”

“In the same way the press is instrumental to extend the reach of sectors seeking redress for grievances against the government, so too should these sectors value, respect and safeguard the safety of journalists towards the betterment of society,” the DPC noted.

Gonzales, a former member of the DPC, was reporting how the protest has affected the traffic in Quezon City when members of Manibela allegedly got irked and started to throw punches.

However, Manibela strongly denied the claims of Gonzales that he was hurt by their members.

“It was Gonzales who first provoked our members after he spoke against us and cursed the members of Manibela, adding that we should be arrested due to the traffic problems we caused,” the transport group said in a separate statement.

The group further urged members of the media to be impartial in their reporting, particularly on the topic of the PUV modernization, as it was their livelihood that is at stake.

Aside from the DPC, government agencies and media groups such as the Philippine National Police, Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), Manila Broadcasting Company which serves as the parent company of DZRH, Justice Reporter’s Organization, Quezon City Journalists' Group Inc., and Southern Metro Manila Tri-Media among others also denounced the incident.

The government has been implementing the PUV Modernization Program to phase out decades-old and road unworthy public vehicles, and replacing them with modern ones. 

However, transport groups such as Manibela oppose the program as they said one unit costs too much for their members and this will force many drivers and operators to lose their jobs.