NAGA CITY – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines or NUJP received reports that a television journalist was arbitrarily assaulted by a military official after a traffic altercation in Brgy. Caroyroyan,Pili, Camarines Sur.
The NUJP said the journalist, Arnel Eclarinal, a news producer for GMA TV 7-Naga and his cousin were on a motorcycle when they came across members of the 9th Infantry Division based in Camp Elias Angeles, Tinangis, Pili, Camarines Sur, who were jogging and occupying both lanes of the road.
Eclarinal asked some of the soldiers if they be allowed to pass and that if possible, the soldiers occupy only one lane of the road, which was already experiencing a traffic jam. An irritated soldier reportedly responded by swearing at him, saying that he and other motorists should wait until they were done.
When Eclarinal, who did not identify himself as a media man, complained that the soldier should not swear at him, he was immediately punched in the back, an act witnessed by other motorists and soldiers including Eclarinal’s cousin.
Eclarinal’s cousin suggested to the soldiers to settle the argument with them at a nearby barangay hall.
But on the way to the barangay hall, the same soldier again punched Eclarinal in the jaw and floored the journalist on the pavement, an act again witnessed by the victim’s cousin, other motorists and soldiers.
The hot-headed soldier was later identified as Major Sesenando O. Magbalot Jr. of the 9th Infantry Division.
Eclarinal had already filed a report in the local police blotter and is determined to press charges against the abusive soldier. He has sought medical help for his swollen jaw as well high blood pressure due to the incident.
The NUJP condemns the arbitrary assault by a man of uniform against a civilian and a member of the 4th estate. The NUJP will be releasing a full statement as soon as possible. (Rowena Paraan, NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office)