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Task force, radio station condemns attack vs. reporter

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) and Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) slammed members of transport group Manibela's alleged assault on radio station DZRH reporter Val Gonzales while covering a transport strike in Quezon City on Monday.

Both the Palace media task force and DZRH's parent firm issued two separate statements after a Manibela member allegedly punched Gonzales in the waist at least twice "for no apparent reason" while reporting on East Avenue in Quezon City.

A livestream video of Gonzales' report, as seen on DZRH's Facebook page, shows Gonzales reporting on Manibela's protest and the road blockade along East Avenue in Quezon City when he was suddenly surrounded by members of the group.

He moved away and alleged that he was punched during the incident.

"We strongly condemn this violence against a member of the media, in the person of Val Gonzales, who was merely performing his duty of reporting events in our country," PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez said in Filipino.

Gutierrez also mentioned that the assault on Gonzales would not garner any public support from the transport group or for the causes they advocate.

He also stated that he had already contacted the Quezon City Police District to request the appearance of Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena regarding the violent behavior of his members.

Furthermore, Gutierrez revealed that during a previous transport strike organized by the same group, another radio reporter named Allan Gatus was subjected to verbal abuse by the strikers, accusing him of bias against their group.

"If Mr. Valbuena's group believes that such accusations and attacks against the media will help their cause, they are mistaken. We believe that the public will not support actions that involve violence and intimidation," Gutierrez said.

MBC-DZRH station manager and vice president for legal, lawyer Rudolph Steve Jularbal, for his part, said that those responsible for the attack would face consequences to deter future occurrences.

"Similar acts of harassment are clear violations of the right to freedom of expression and have no place in a civilized society. The public can rest assured that MBC-DZRH will remain committed to promoting truth in the name of fair and free journalism," Jularbal said.

Valbuena, however, denied that their members attacked Gonzales and claimed that the reporter instigated the incident.

He claimed that Gonzales purportedly initiated the altercation by insulting members of the transport group and advocating for their imprisonment.

"The Manibela group strongly opposes the statement of DZRH reporter Val Gonzales alleging that he was punched or slapped by our members," Valbuena said in Filipino.

"What was seen in his video report was that he was allegedly surrounded by our members, but this was just to talk to him politely, but he did not expose his malicious remarks before he aired, so allegedly he was hurt," he added.

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