3 media workers accuse publisher of rape; suspect denies charges

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 December) – Complaints of sexual abuse and harassment were filed last week before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in this city against the publisher of two local dailies.

Bobby Goking, president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club said they have met with the complainants and decided to back their complaints against Winston Fermin Visitacion, publisher of The Daily Corridor and Periodico Mindanaw.

“We found their complaints are true and we decided to support these women in their crusade for justice,” Goking told MindaNews.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the women’s group Gabriela have also decided to help the complainants.

Three female staff including a reporter complained that Visitacion molested them sometime this year in Cagayan de Oro and Davao City.

One of the complainants, a marketing assistant who filed a complaint before the police in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon said Visitacion asked her to travel last August to Davao City where he allegedly raped her.

“I deny the allegations,” Visitacion told MindaNews in a telephone interview today. He said “these are all part of a grand design of some people to get our business in Cagayan de Oro City.” He declined to elaborate. He said he has consulted his lawyers and will defend himself at the proper forum.

Joseph Ben Deveza, NUJP Mindanao safety officer, said he will talk with Gabriela officers on how they could assist the complainants.

“I understand Gabriela wants to provide protection to the victims. We can help in the legal aspects,” Deveza said.

Goking said the complaints have unified media organizations in the city that were appalled by the alleged crimes against their colleagues.

He said even schools offering journalism courses have offered their help to the complainants.

“We are standing behind the complainants and we are closely hiding their identities for the sake of their careers,” Goking said. (Froilan Gallardo with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)