The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the manner in which Dipolog City chief of police, Superintendent Reynaldo Maclang, chose to show his grievance against blocktime commentator Rodolfo Tanquis of dxFL 88.9 FM by having him arrested arbitrarily and then later barging into the announcer’s booth to commandeer the airwaves.
We also deplore Western Mindanao police director, Chief Superintendent Juanito Vano Jr., for attempting to cover up for Maclang.
On Friday morning, May 3, Tanquis was hosting his 6-7 a.m. program, Isyu Karon, when Maclang, accompanied by several of his men, arrived.
Tanquis had been criticizing Maclang for the high number of unsolved killings in the city.
His colleagues said Maclang went into the announcer’s booth and locked it from the inside while his men prevented a technician from entering.
Mitchel Bala, who hosts another program over the station, said Tanquis “questioned Maclang on the number of unresolved killings. In turn, Maclang took offense, slammed his caliber .45 pistol (on the table) and informed Tanquis that he is filing a libel case.”
The police chief then “arrested” Tanquis and had him taken to the police station, leaving the station’s audience listening to dead air.
The Dipolog police detained Tanquis until Maclang finished filing libel charges for which the broadcaster had to post P10,000 bail.
Whatever Tanquie may have done to offend Maclang, the police chief’s reaction and actions clearly overstepped the bounds of both his authority and the law.
Surely, even a rookie policeman knows enough not to arbitrarily arrest anyone without a proper court-issued warrant on properly filed charges. And surely, libel, even if such were indeed the case, is not one of the offenses the commission of which allows for a warrantless arrest.
And for Maclang to draw his weapon and slam it down in front of Tanquis is a clear abuse of authority and as grave a threat as anyone, especially a person in authority, can make against another person.
As for Vano, his brazen attempt at covering up for Maclang shows why the impunity with which extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations are committed persists and why the murders of journalists, activists, lawyers, religious, indigenous people and others remain unsolved.
We demand that PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II immediately investigate and sanction Maclang and Vano, who have proven to be a blot on the service.
We acknowledge that our profession is beset with a myriad problem of ethics and professionalism and make no excuses for these. Which is why we continuously strive to convince colleagues to strive to uphold the tenets of the profession.
But offensive word or thought can never justify resorting to brute force – threats, assaults, murders – in response.