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Police question radio reporters in Philippines; army spokesperson accuses station of siding with rebels

Instead of allowing two radio reporters to look at police blotter reports collected from different police stations, police officers questioned the reporters on 8 April 2014 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte province. This was after an army spokesperson tagged the radio station the reporters work for as biased towards a rebel group operating in the area.

Tagum City is some 1,400 kilometers south of Metro Manila.

Radyo ni Juan (Juan's Radio) reporters Erwin Batucan and Jojo Gales were at the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office, on the afternoon of 8 April to gather news by looking at police blotter reports collected from police stations all over the province. They were directed to the Intelligence Division office where two police officers asked them to write down their personal details, Batucan told CMFR.

The reporters were also asked to write down the names of the owner and the manager of the radio station they work for.

No reason was given and the police officers to identify themselves, Batucan said. But he and Radyo ni Juan news director Ailene Manipol believed it was because authorities see them as "leftists."

Manipol told CMFR she has army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paneza on record as refusing an interview request in the last week of March, saying "I won't grant your interview request. We are monitoring your station and you're biased."

Manipol said she was inquiring about an alleged aerial bombing of a local community, and a human rights violation military officers allegedly committed against an elderly woman.

Paneza admitted refusing the interview request in a Sun.Star Davao report, but denied saying the radio station was colluding with the rebels.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which first reported the incident, released a statement on 14 April 2014 demanding an immediate investigation and for the army to "end its irresponsible and dangerous Red-baiting."

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