Davao journalists troop to Ombudsman to support beaten colleague

Nov. 09, 2007

By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Davao journalists rallied behind Radyo Natin Compostela
broadcaster Roel Sembrano, who filed criminal and administrative
charges before the Office of the Mindanao Ombudsman against the
poitician who allegedly attacked him inside the announcer’s booth
while he was airing a regular radio program last month.

The journalists trooped to the office of the Mindanao Ombudsman as
Sembrano filed a criminal case of grave coercion, grave threats,
physical injury, and an administrative case of grave abuse of
authority against against the Compostela Valley provincial board
member Neri Barte, who allegedly attacked him inside the announcer’s
booth at around 6:15 a.m. of October 23.

Carlos Zarate, secretary general of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in
Mindanao (UPLM), said the lawyers’ group is helping out in the case
because it involves not only the trampling of rights of one person but
also it touches on the issue of press freedom and the culture of
impunity reigning in the country.

Zarate said the case involved a top government official using power to
suppress the press. “This is dangerous because there are already more
than 50 journalists killed in our country since the restoration of
democracy in 1986,” he said.

In Full Force. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Davao Chapter Chairperson Carmelito Francisco reads out the statement jointly signed by NUJP and the KBP, Kapisan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) before filing criminal and administrative charges at the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao against the public official accused of mauling radio and pointing a gun at Radyo Natin Compostela broadcaster Roel Sembrano inside the announcer’s booth on October 24. With him are (From left) KBP Davao Chairperson Roy Geonzon, Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) Davao Chapter Secretary General Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Atty. Bibiano Bustamante, also a UPLM lawyer, as counsels for the complainant. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

“We don’t only demand for a stop of the killing of journalists but
also to stop all attacks against press freedom.” “Instead of attacking the bearer of the message, why can’t they just
listen to the message, itself?” Zarate said.

Both the Davao chapters of journalist groups National Union of
Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Kapisanan ng mga
Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) urged colleagues not to treat the
incident lightly, because this may encourage more politicians to
attack any unprotected media man while discussing legitimate issues on

“What happened to Roel Sembrano only showed ongoing attempts to
curtail the freedom of expression in the country,” said the joint
statement, signed by Carmelito Francisco, chair of NUJP Davao and Roy
Geonzon, chair of KBP Davao.

“It shows how members of the local media have become easy targets of
such attacks by abusive public officials.”

  • mlacal

    NOVEMBER 2007



    To our dear friends in the broadcast and print media, health and blessings from the Lord!

    It the last weeks, my name has been on the news because of the so-called complain hurled against me by Mr. Roel Sembrano, a supposed broadcaster and announcer of a local radio station in our hometown, Compostela, ComVal Province.

    With this open letter I want to address the issue on various fronts. First, I am well aware that media practioners have to follow certain norms and ethics in broadcasting. Media practioners are supposed to unveil the truth by taking all sides of the story, and NOT create intrigues and stories instead.

    Roel Sembrano never took my side to the allegations that he wantonly broadcasted over the radio. His pronouncements on radio were all brazen lies and intrigues. People in Compostela valley and in Compostela municipality in particular are aware that Sembrano is not a broadcaster that reports objective truths, issues and events, but a media practioner who is under the wings, caprices and influences of some local politicians, immoral and corrupt, who are all out to destroy my refutation as a civil servant and critique of excesses of other politicians.

    People of Compostela can attest that Sembrano did nothing in order to report the truth; instead he is being used and influenced by politicians who were disgraced because of my fiscalizing action as civil servant in the last twenty years and a former block time broadcaster in the past. It is good to note that my previous radio program dubbed Isumbong mo kay Nonong was shut out of air because of my exposes against politicians to whom Sembrano is working for at present.

    If Sembrano is after the reporting of truth, my office in the Provincial capitol is always open for him to visit me and discuss issues that were hurled against me. If Sembrano is after the truth for people of Compostela to know, he should have reported the unabated killings in our town and the rampant proliferation of illegal drugs that confronts Compostela, instead of maligning my refutation as a politician who never have any record of immorality, unlike the politicians with whom Sembrano works for.

    Secondly, I am aware that media practice should be balance and fair. It pains me that I was condemned and subjected to the judgment not out of justice and balance that media suppose to represent, but in the bar of public opinion. This is what Sembrano actually did when he never take my side in the allegations that I suppose to have committed.

    Fairness and balance is never a practice of Mr. Sembrano for he maligned a refutation without establishing solid facts to support his allegations. My record as a politician is open for public scrutiny, but what Sembrano did is not to report the truth; balance and fairly, but simply to accuse me of things I never have committed. His brazen lies is manifested in his claim that he criticizes me because I sided with someone who run against his friend and mentor in the last barangay election of which I never did. It was a public knowledge to the people of Compostela that it was he, Roel Sembrano who campaigned and trumpeted a certain candidate to whom he work with and he allows himself to be used as a demolition man by a local politician instead of being a broadcaster for truth and transparency.

    Thirdly, the issue that Sembrano accuses me was a sheer lie and intrigue. I was never involve in the supposed non-partisan barangay election given the fact that many of those who seek office were my allies, town mates and friends.

    Fourthly, I have to make it clear that it was not this barangay election issue that enraged my family, but the brazen lies that Sembrano tells on the radio. He accused me on air of non-performance of my duty as a duly constituted and elected public official. It was not because I campaigned for a local candidate that he maligned my refutation but issues that attacks, not my political works and achievements but personal ones that go beyond the realm of truthful and balanced broadcasting. To say it straight, Roel Sembrano is a blatant liar.

    Lastly, I want to make it clear that I did not attack him! It was my wife and daughter who come to him in order to confront him of the lies he uttered on air. I only followed to stop them. My daughter, a graduating MassCom student of the Ateneo de Davao was the one very enraged for she knew that what Sembrano did on air was a blatant violation of the code of ethics of the broadcast media. Emotions were high and people of Compostela could attest that my wife and daughter were entitled to their anger because what was said against her father and husband were all but lies and empty accusations. I will not condemn my wife and daughter, for what they did were clear expressions of disgust brought about by moral bankruptcy and media malpractice that Sembrano did to me.

    I wish to end this long tract with an appeal to the people of the broadcast and written media. I am a politician and in the last two decades of my political life I always am a voice in the wilderness for I stood against immorality, exploitation and excesses committed by the ruling powerful politicians. Despite all of this, and despite all the efforts of destroying me, including the use of Sembranos radio program through the lies and intrigues that he sowed on air, the people of ComVal voted me.

    I hope to be given a fair share in the bars of public opinion where my side will be heard and asked for, for like anyone in the media I am also for truth and justice. I appeal that stories being written and broadcast must carry all the time, the two sides of the coin, the opposing views of the stories told, so that truth shall come out. I appeal to media people to report only the truth and not allow themselves to be used as speaking parrots and puppets of people who are immoral and corrupt for it will deprive the unveiling of the truth.

    As the bible says, Only the Truth shall set us free So is my wish for those who are out to destroy and malign me. In the end, it is the people and God who will judge us.

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