We, the members of the local media representing various organizations and outfits, stand united in condemning the brazen attack perpetrated by notorious contractor, Joseph ‘Nono’ Yap III, brother of incumbent Prieto-Diaz Mayor Jocelyn Yap-Lelis, against one of our colleagues, Bobby Labalan, editor of Sorsogon Now, Sorsogon Chapter Chairman and National Director of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and chairman of the Sorsogon Media Forum.
Said attack was carried out by Yap with pre-meditation and without any provocation from Mr. Labalan in front of other media practitioners in plain view of the public and in the presence of the Honorable Governor Raul R. Lee.
That, without respect for the authority of the honorable governor, Yap physically assaulted Mr. Labalan after uttering the words, “Nano kay tinira mo ako sa dyaryo?”
However, after reviewing the subject article published in Sorsogon Now which centered on an alleged irregular implementation by Yap of a road project in Prieto-Diaz under the PAMANA Project, we found it to be fair and factual as it also contained the side of Yap and therefore an objective reportage of a valid subject.
Obviously, such attack was clearly related to the media’s role as the eyes and ears of the public in safeguarding their interest against any and all irregularities involving government fund.
Yap’s disregard of the authority of the governor as he attacked Mr. Labalan was a wanton display of arrogance and a veiled threat to all media practitioners in the province who would dare criticize his performance as a contractor. Yap must have been emboldened by the fact that his sister is a mayor and therefore wields influence and power.
It would be recalled that Yap had also mauled one of our colleagues, the deceased Mark Mella, when he also made comments regarding the said brother of Mayor Yap-Lelis.
We therefore condemn in the highest possible terms the act of Yap against our colleague, Bobby Labalan, which we view as an assault on press freedom.
We call on the authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly especially since it had been observed that Yap was in possession of a gun of unknown caliber when he confronted Mr. Labalan.
We further call on the authorities to ensure the safety of our colleague against further attacks by Yap who appeared deeply disturbed by the article and hell bent on getting back at Mr. Labalan.
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