MANILA, Philippines – Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Thursday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the alleged assault of a broadcast journalist by the provincial governor of Kalinga.
Last Wednesday, DZRK (Radyo ng Bayan) broadcaster Jerome Tabingay was about to sign off his show when Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac and his armed escorts showed up inside his radio booth in Tabuk City, Kalinga. The official allegedly slapped the journalist with a microphone, hitting him in the mouth.
Robredo ordered PNP Chief Director General Raul Bacalzo and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) police director, Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag, to initiate the probe and filing of charges against the governor and his armed bodyguards, if warranted.
Robredo said the probe should determine if the attack against Jerome Balinag Tabangay, anchor of DZRK Radyo ng Bayan’s “Agenda ng Bayan” program, was prompted by the latter’s frequent attacks on the governor’s alleged involvement in jueteng and illegal logging operations in the province.
Reports said that last May 24, some unidentified men tried to burn the DZRK establishment but this was foiled and the PNP assigned security detail in the area.
The PNP chief and the CAR PNP director, he said, should submit to his office the result of its findings and corresponding recommendations against Baac and his bodyguards within 72 hours.
“The acts of the governor is tantamount to conduct unbecoming of a public official, abuse of power and discretion. He should have been more prudent and patient under such circumstances taking into account that the radio program was live on air. We cannot tolerate such a behavior of a local government official,” he said.
The DILG secretary assured that if the result of the investigation will show there is prima facie evidence against Baac and his bodyguards, then an appropriate criminal and administrative charges should be filed soon.
Robredo also tasked the CAR PNP office to provide security detail to Tabangay and members of his family. (PNA)