The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) demands the surfacing of Cagayan de Oro journalist Rolando Gono, who went missing in Camiguin Island Sunday morning after sending a plea for help saying he had been abducted by unidentified men.
Nestor Burgos, NUJP chair, also challenged authorities to take appropriate action against Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus “JJ” M. Romualdo who, with several of his followers, mauled two other Cagayan de Oro media men, Herbert Hugo Dumaguing and his son Hubert.
Rene Abris, volunteer reporter of Cagayan de Oro’s Hot FM 106.3, said he received a text message from Gono asking for help because unidentified men had seized him. The men were also asking where Abris was.Gono’s abduction came soon after Abris had filed a report from the Catarman police station about the mauling of the Dumaguits in Barangay Pangaro, where they had chanced on several local officials allegedly handing out envelopes to voters.
Abris said Gono had asked permission to return to Cagayan de Oro because a child had gotten sick. He never made it out of Catarman.
On the other hand, the elder Dumaguis said they had gone to Pangaro to follow up a tip on vote buying. However, his son was discovered before he could take footage and was chased.
Herbert Hugo said he rushed to pick up Hubert but they were surrounded before they could make good escape.
When they refused demands to hand over their equipment, he said some of the men around them drew guns and aimed at them. Herbert Hugo was pistol-whipped on the head with a .45 caliber pistol while his son suffered contusions and abrasions from the beating. Their assailants also seized a camera and other belongings from them.
Colleagues following up the incidents have reported that police met with Romualdo in another barangay of Catarman but took no action against the provincial executive.
These brazen violations, not only of election laws, but of criminal laws and of the basic human and civil rights enshrined in our Constitution cannot and should not be countenanced.
We demand that the Commission on Elections immediately place Camiguin under its control and, if local authorities cannot or will not act against Romualdo and his minions, to replace the security forces on the island with those who will.
We also demand the disarming of all private armed groups maintained by politicians in Camiguin.
The culture of impunity that has claimed the lives of 137 colleagues since 1986, 100 of them under this administration alone, and which threatens the missing Gono, has gone on for too long.
”We say enough!” Burgos said.