TV crew sues village councilor for harassment and grave threats

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/06 February) – The legal department of  television giant GMA Network, Inc., has given the go-signal to its local news crew here to pursue charges against a village councilor in an upland barangay for alleged harassment and grave threat.

In a telephone interview, Nef Abdul Malik Luczon, anchor of GMA’s News & Public Affairs local documentary program–“Ang Isyu Karon”—said their legal department “has already given us the green light to file the cases. We are only waiting for our affidavits of complaint which our legal department has prepared for us.”

On February 1, Luczon, along with camera crew Michael Tolang and Michael Cabulay claimed Tuburan barangay kagawad Ray Obsioma Yañez threatened and harassed them when they sought comments from village officials on what they suspected as a floating quarry which may have contributed to the flashfloods that hit this city late last year.

He said they were about to start their interview with village chair Loresa Gaupan, when an inexplicably irate Yañez started shouting from among the crowd and threatened them: “Panghawa diha, laparohon ta hinuon mo og burak (Leave or I’ll slap you with a machete).”

A burak is an indigenous bladed tool, similar to a machete, used commonly to chop firewood.

The cameraman, Tolang, was able to film the entire incident which they subsequently aired last Friday. In the episode, Gaupan did not admonish Yañez for his behavior despite the disruption it caused on her interview.

In a separate interview over the weekend, Tolang said he kept his camera taping the incident even after Yañez yelled, “Kanang ga-video video dinha tiraduron ko man hinoon na (The one taking the video, I will hit you with a slingshot).”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Mindanao Media Safety Officer JB Deveza has offered to help the journalists in filing cases against the village official. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)