Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the reported intimidation committed against journalists during a demolition in Angeles City

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the reported intimidation committed against journalists during a demolition in Angeles City

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its grave concern after receiving reports that journalists were threatened by members of a demolition team while covering an incident at Sitio Balubad, Brgy. Anunas, Angeles City, Pampanga on 12 March 2024.

CHR Region III has dispatched a Quick Response Operation to immediately conduct an investigation regarding this incident. We also take note of the swift action of the Angeles City government for condemning the said violent demolition and for pressing charges against the armed demolition team. We echo the call of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines for the Angeles City police and the local government to conduct their respective probe in order to immediately address this matter.

In separate incidents, it is reported that the demolition team of Clarkhills Properties Corporation pointed a gun at K5 News Olongapo reporter Rowena Quejada and threatened to shoot Rappler Luzon reporter Joann Manabat, who were taking videos of the demolition.

While threats were being made against Quejada, the armed men allegedly took her phone, bag, and wallet and also called the media “demonyo.”

It must be noted that Quejada was first reported to be missing after the said incident. The Commission has received this notification through our Alisto! Alert Mechanism platform, where CHR directly receives and responds to incidents which involve media workers.

Likewise, we have taken cognizance of the reports that the violent demolition also injured a handful of residents in the area. We also remind all involved parties during the demolition incident to caution against the use of any violent force against civilians and media workers alike.

As an independent human rights institution, the Commission actively condemns all acts of violence against journalists as these negatively impact the situation of press freedom of the country and may lead the Philippine democracy towards decay. We stress the crucial role of the media in the upkeep of the information flow across all Filipinos—any threats which may deter them from fulfilling their duty is a clear violation of the freedom of the press.

We reiterate our stance that members of the press must be able to practice their profession without any fear. Media safety, after all, sits at the core of a healthy democracy.

The Commission calls for the urgent resolution of this case and for all parties involved to fully cooperate with the investigation. We hope that this incident serves as a reminder for all relevant government and law enforcement agencies to take proactive measures in ensuring a safe environment for all Filipino journalists.###