ANGELES CITY – Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) abducted a Pampanga-based reporter in Angeles City last Nov. 11, Central Luzon-based media reported.
Bernard Galang, correspondent for the daily tabloid People’s Tonight, covered a raid conducted by NBI agents around 7:00 p.m. at the Stampede Bar in Fields Avenue when one of the agents ordered his arrest.
Shortly after the raid, Galang took pictures using his digital camera. At that time, he said, “four females were being led by NBI agents into an old van.”
An agent wearing a jacket marked NBI went out of the van and asked for Galang’s identity. “As I was rummaging for my press ID in my bag, the agent ordered one of his men to grab my camera,” he said. The agent then ordered his men to arrest the reporter.
Held in the arm by two other agents, Galang said he was led to a parked Toyota Hilux van. He added he could not protest because the agents are each armed with an Uzi rifle.
While the car was heading north, one of the agents erased all the contents of Galang’s camera. About a kilometer from the raid site, another agent got instructions over the phone to set Galang free. He was dropped off at Villa del Sol Subdivision.
NBI Regional Director Ric Diaz confirmed the incident but said the agency has already apologized to Galang.
In defense, he said that while the correspondent should not be apprehended for merely taking pictures, the victims are initially believed to be minors, and therefore, their faces must not be published.
The Pampanga-based publication Punto News however pointed that another publication, Central Luzon Daily was able to take and publish photos of the women arrested during the raid inside the NBI Regional Office.
Ashley Manabat, chair of the National Union of Journalists-Pampanga chapter condemned the incident, saying, “Unless we act on such cases, we perpetrate the culture of impunity that led to the Maguindanao massacre that also killed many journalists. We want the NBI agents named and charged.” (Ashley Manabat/Rowena Paraan)