LEGAZPI CITY, 13-May-2013 – A mayoral candidate in Ozamis City harassed and threatened a group of journalists before noon today (May 12), destroying their equipment and pointing a pistol at one of them which, fortunately, misfired.
The incident involved Liberal Party (LP) mayoral candidate and incumbent Ozamis City vice mayor Rolando Romero and a local cable channel crew who were trying to interview him at about 11 am today in Barangay Dona Consuelo, Neptali Batolenio, NUJP-Ozamis City chair, reported to the NUJP-IFJ Mindanao Media Safety Office.
Batolenio identified the journalists as reporter Ellena Pelare, cameraman Melito Opena, and anchor Danny Pilar. The three work for Ronda Balita, a program produced by the city government which airs in a local cable channel.
Romero is running for mayor of Ozamis City against Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr (National Unity Party), father of incumbent mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez.
Batolenio said when Pilar tried to interview Romero as the latter alighted from his vehicle but Romero grabbed Pilar’s microphone and threw it to the sea. A woman aide of Romero subsequently forcibly took the Canon 3CCD camera of Opena and smashed it to the ground.
Romero then pointed his pistol at Opena but the pistol misfired. Another Romero aide armed with a rifle and assaulted Opena.
The mayoral candidate also confiscasted Pelare’s Nikon D3000 digital camera while threatening other journalists who witnessed the incident.
Batolenio said Pelare, Opena, and the other journalists were able to scamper to safety but not before being threatened again by Romero.
In a text message sent to Batolenio, LP re-electionist congressman Loreto Leo Ocampos blamed the Ronda Balita crew for provoking Romero and said the vice mayor only “defended himself” (mi depensa lang si vice).