The first incident occurred when Roberto Labalan, editor of Sorsogon Now weekly tabloid and national director and Sorsogon chapter chairman of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP), was assaulted by Joseph Yap III, a brother of Prieto-Diaz town mayor Jocelyn Yap-Lelis on Sunday at a media forum in the Tia Tinay Coffee Shop in Sorsogon City.
Labalan, also former Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) correspondent in Sorsogon, said in an interview that he was mauled by Yap right in front of other mediamen and even Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee who was then the guest at the forum.
Labalan said Yap got mad at him Yap over an article he wrote in his paper concerning an alleged irregularity in the implementation of a P3-million PAMANA road project in Prieto-Diaz town in which Yap was the contractor.
Labalan said the attack happened about 7:15 a.m. on Sunday when he and other members of the media and Gov. Lee where having a huddle at the coffee shop. He said Yap suddenly barged in and punched him in the face.
He said Yap physically assaulted him after uttering, “Nano kay tinira mo ako sa dyaryo? (Why did you hit me in your newspaper).”
The Sorsogon Press Association issued a manifesto on Monday condemning in the highest possible terms the act of Yap against their colleague viewing it as an assault on press freedom.
The manifesto also called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident especially since it had been observed that Yap was in possession of a gun of unknown caliber at the time.
They also asked authorities to ensure the safety of Labalan against possible further attacks by Yap who appeared deeply disturbed by the article written by Labalan.
In another incident, Ramil Marianito, station manager of Radio Natin in Sorsogon City and the WOW FM in Bulan town, complained to police authorities about being harassed and tailed on Sunday afternoon by six unidentified armed men riding tandem in three motorcycles at the Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Salvacion, Irosin town in Sorsogon.
Marianito, in a phone interview, said he and his wife and three children including an office staff were then on board a Toyota Vios car he was driving as they were on their way home from Bulan town to Sorsogon City last Sunday.
He said as they were negotiating the highway in Irosin town at about 4:30 PM Sunday when he noticed that three motorcycles, with the six men riding in tandem, were tailing them.
He said one of the motorcycles overtook them and a suspect poked a .45 caliber handgun. Reaching the road junction of Irosin and Casiguran town boundaries, he found the motor riding armed men partially blocking the highway and one of them was holding a baby Armalite.
Marianito said he sped up that led to a chase wherein he entered the town of Casiguran. The armed men following them then suddenly disappeared.
He immediately asked for police assistance in the town proper and logged the incident at the police blotter.
Asked if he has previously received threats, he said that it is a normal occurrence in the media profession but the Sunday incident was terrifying as it traumatized his children. PNA