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Media security task force condemns attack on journalist covering transport strike

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The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) denounced the assault on a journalist by alleged members of the transport group Manibela during a transport strike on Monday.

DZRH reporter Val Gonzales was punched twice while covering the strike on East Avenue, causing significant traffic disruptions.

PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez criticized the attack, saying it damages Manibela’s public image and support.  

“Let’s condemn this violence against a media member, our comrade Val Gonzales, who’s just doing his job reporting on what’s happening in our country,” Gutierrez said.

He has since coordinated with Quezon City police to summon Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena, affirming the task force’s readiness to support Gonzales who plans to sue the transport group.

“We assure Val Gonzales that the PTFoMS fully supports his decision to take legal action against those involved in the attack,” Gutierrez said.

He emphasized that such attacks and accusations against the media as “biased” or “paid off” by the group will not gain public sympathy.

House Deputy Minority Leader  France Castro also expressed concern over reports of an alleged assault committed by members of the transport group Manibela against the radio reporter.

“Any attack on civilians especially against members of the media who are simply doing their jobs to report on issues of public interest should not be condoned,” Castro said. 

“At the same time, we recognize the legitimate grievances of our jeepney drivers and operators under Manibela who have long been demanding government support amid the phasing out of old jeepneys,” she added.

Castro urged the authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial probe on the incident to determine the circumstances and context surrounding the alleged assault against Gonzales. She added the findings should be made public to ensure transparency.

“While we do not condone this supposed attack, we stand in solidarity with Manibela and other transport groups in their calls for a pro-people and pro-worker transport program that will not unduly burden our drivers and operators,” Castro said.

Manibela pushed through with its planned three-day transport strike on Monday to protest the apprehension of unconsolidated public utility vehicles. The strike will run until Independence Day, a June 12.

The group has been urging the government to give unconsolidated jeepney drivers and operators another year of provisional authority after the April 30 consolidation deadline.

The transport strike began along East Avenue corner NIA Road in Diliman, Quezon City. Manibela denied accusations that they attacked the radio reporter. — With Rio N. Araja

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