Bangkok, August 1, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the detention of five Filipino journalists and the attack on at least one reporter by police and private security guards in Bulacan province's Meycauayan City and called for an independent investigation that brings the perpetrators to justice.
Hiyasmin Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, Psalty Caluza, and Jon Bonifacio, all reporters with the local AlterMidya Network of independent media outfits, were detained while reporting on the dispersal of a worker's strike on July 30 against NutriAsia, a food condiment producer, CNN reported.
Authorities today released the five reporters without charge after Meycauayan City Prosecutor Frederick Malapit said that NutriAsia accusations that the reporters had caused "physical harm" during the protests lacked probable cause, CNN reported.
The reporters still face a preliminary police investigation on "alarm and scandal" accusations filed by NutriAsia security guards in relation to the journalits' role in the protests, the CNN report stated.
"Authorities should protect, not harass, journalists while they report on newsworthy events such as labor strikes," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. "We call on Filipino authorities to drop the investigation into the five journalists and instead scrutinize and punish the behavior of local police and private guards who obstructed their coverage and detained them arbitrarily."
While filming the strike's dispersal, Rosemarie Alcaraz, a reporter with the local radio station Radyo Natin Guimba, was hit in the head with rattan canes and pushed by NutriAsia security guards, according to local reports. A police officer also hit her Canon 70D camera while she was filming the melee, the same reports said.
"They knew that I'm a journalist. I'm wearing my ID," Alcaraz told the local Bulatlat news website.