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Journalist assaulted while covering car accident

(CMFR/IFEX) - On 22 December 2008, a television reporter in Iloilo City filed charges against a woman involved in a car accident. The reporter, Charlene Belvis, of GMA-7 television station, was covering the car accident when the woman allegedly assaulted her. Iloilo City is located approximately 455 kilometres from Manila.

Belvis filed charges for slander and physical assault against Andrea Gorriceta. Belvis, 24, sustained scratches and bruises after Gorriceta allegedly attacked her inside the Jaro district police station.

The news website http://inquirer.net reported that Gorriceta attacked Belvis after apparently becoming angry when the reporter and her crew continued taking footage of her and her car despite her request that they stop.

Footage from GMA-7's primetime news programme "24 Oras" showed Gorriceta, 27, slapping Belvis on the side of her head. Gorriceta was also seen pulling Belvis' hair until she fell to the floor inside the police station at around 3:55 a.m. (local time) on 22 December.

In a phone interview, Belvis told the CMFR that she repeatedly said to Gorriceta, "Sorry, I have to. It's my job."

The Inquirer.net report said Gorriceta allegedly hit a woman by the name of Ria Aquino and bumped into a post while parking her car in front of a bar and restaurant in Mandurriao District, Iloilo City.

The Iloilo chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the attack. "Even if we agree that the television crew went overboard in taking videos of the incident despite the request of Ms. Gorriceta, the physical attack on Ms. Belvis cannot be justified," NUJP said in a statement.

"We also question why it was possible for Ms. Belvis to be physically assaulted inside the Jaro police station in front of policemen," NUJP added.

The Commission for Human Rights (CHR) in Western Visayas also said that, although Gorriceta has a right to privacy, Belvis on the other hand has the responsibility to inform the public.

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