MANILA, Philippines – Journalists covering the defense beat reported being manhandled by security escorts of US Ambassador Harry Thomas during an event at the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City.
A report published by TV5’s Interaksyon said Thomas was at the military hospital to hand over a donation from his government. Members of the Defense Press Corps reported to NUJP that they were invited to cover the event and that the ambassador granted their request for interview. When they approached him after the ceremony, they were reportedly shoved by the embassy’s security escorts and V. Luna’s guards. They also said that a female reporter’s chest was grabbed.
Interaksyon further reported that Thomas’ security aides tried to cover with their hands the station’s camera. The assistant cameraman, Eddie Mendoza, was struck on the neck.
Reporters Erel Cabatbat of TV 5 and Dona Pazzibugan-Porcalla of Philippine Daily Inquirer said there was no reason to manhandle them because they were invited to cover the event and came as early as 7:45 in the morning. Cabatbat said the reporters waited respectfully for the activity to finish before asking permission for the interview which the ambassador granted but immediately the escorts and guards started pushing them and cursing, Cabatbat said.