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Philippines: Journalists Hurt and Arrested at NutriAsia Strike Dispersal
by Altermidya
Tuesday Jul 31st, 2018 12:49 PM
Three AlterMidya correspondents, Hiyasmin Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, and one student intern from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, are among those arrested during the dispersal and are currently detained at the Meycauayan police station.

AlterMidya, a national network of independent media outfits, strongly condemns the violence inflicted by the police and security guards on our journalists.
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[ Photo: Ecumenical mass at the NutriAsia workers' picketline, minutes before the violent dispersal. Photo taken by Hiyasmin Saturday, who was arrested while covering the dispersal. She remains under police custody. ]


The AlterMidya Network (People’s Alternative Media Network) condemns the violent dispersal of the picketline of striking contractual workers of the giant condiments factory NutriAsia in Marilao, Bulacan, which led to the injury and arrest of several members of AlterMidya.

At around 3 p.m., around 50 security guards of NutriAsia and 20 members of the Philippine National Police in Marilao and Meycauayan violently dispersed the workers while an ecumenical mass was being held at the picketline near the factory gates.

Three AlterMidya correspondents Hiyasmin Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, and one student intern from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, Psalty Caluza, are among those arrested during the dispersal and are currently detained at the Meycauayan police station.

Rosemarie Alcaraz, a correspondent for Nueva-Ecija based Radyo Natin Guimba, who was capturing video footage, was pushed by a security guard into the ranks of workers. While trapped inside the picketline, she was hit on the head with rattan sticks by NutriAsia guards. A policeman also hit her camera, a Canon 70D, with a truncheon.

Meanwhile, a video correspondent of Kodao Productions was told by policemen to stop shooting, or else they will destroy his camera equipment.

AlterMidya, a national network of independent media outfits, strongly condemns the violence inflicted by the police and security guards on our journalists. Our members have been consistently covering the strike since Day One, and have shot exclusive footage of the first violent dispersal last June 14, which was shared widely online. In light of the limited mainstream media coverage of the strike by hundreds of contractual workers in the Philippines’ largest condiments factory, a major media advertiser, our coverage has been instrumental in informing the public of the plight of contractual workers of NutriAsia, a plight shared by millions of other contractual workers in the Philippines.

We call on the public to condemn the violent dispersal of the NutriAsia workers strike and the attack on our member journalists. Such an assault violates freedom of the press and the public’s right to know. The PNP must immediately release these journalists.

We also call on colleagues in the mainstream media to report on developments on the NutriAsia workers strike and their struggle against contractualization, a most pressing issue faced by Filipino workers under the Duterte government.

Watch Hiyasmin Saturay’s video report of the NutriAsia dispersal last month.

The Arrest of Eric and Hiyasmin: https://www.facebook.com/altermidya/videos/1103836013099192/
§Supporter of the NutriAsia Workers Strike
by Altermidya Tuesday Jul 31st, 2018 12:49 PM
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An elderly supporter of the NutriAsia workers strike was injured in a violent dispersal. Photo by Anakbayan-Bulacan State University.
§NutriAsia workers, supporters and journalists walk free
by Altermidya Wednesday Aug 1st, 2018 4:37 PM
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The 19 arrested NutriAsia strikers and supporters, including five journalists, were released from detention at about nine o’clock Wednesday morning after finally getting a clearance from the Bulacan Provincial Prosecutors’ Office.

The detainees jubilantly walked out of their jail cell accompanied by their lawyers after the local city prosecutor dismissed charges of physical injuries slapped against them by Meycauayan police.

However, they were given 10 days to respond to charges of violation of Batas Pambansa 880 on alarms and scandals.

The 19 were arrested Monday morning, July 30, when NutriAsia company guards, assisted by the Meycauayan police led by Supt. Santos Mera, violently dispersed an ongoing ecumenical prayer in support of the two-month long workers’ strike.

The detainees spent two days and nights in jail despite widespread condemnation of the violent dispersal.

The Meycauayan city prosecutor actually dismissed the physical injuries charged against the detainees and ordered their release Tuesday night but the police insisted they first secure a clearance from the provincial prosecutor.

Meanwhile, in a press conference in Quezon City Wednesday morning, members of the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia belied they instigated the violence last Monday.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. presented videos during the press conference showing it was the company guards who rushed the workers and instigated the violence.

The workers condemned efforts by Supt Mera to use a “planted suspect” allegedly caught with illegal drugs and a gun during the dispersal as among those arrested.

Edwin Barana, 39, a resident of Barangay Langka, Meycauayan, Bulacan eventually admitted before the city prosecutor he was forced by the police to say he was among the strikers.

Barana added he is not a member of the organizations present at the strike and ecumenical prayer.

During the press conference, Atty Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers added that the arrest of the media workers by the guards and police may be grounds for countercharges against NutriAsia and the Meycauayan police. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
§Eric Tandoc's account of the arrest
by Altermidya Wednesday Aug 1st, 2018 4:41 PM
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AlterMidya correspondent Eric Tandoc: “I was beat up and dragged by four or five policemen. I used my camera to shield my head, and to show them that I was a member of the media. But they continued to hit me with truncheons.”

One of our four journalists arrested during the #NutriAsiaWorkersStrike dispersal, Tandoc has been filming the strike together with his wife, Hiyasmin Saturay, also a documentary filmmaker. Tandoc is a L.A. based-documentary filmmaker and communications coordinator of Filipino Migrant Center in California. He took up B.A. Asian American Studies at UCLA and finished his M.A. in Social Documentation at UC Santa Cruz, where he made the documentary film Sounds of a New Hope.
§Drop all charges vs. journos, no to attempted censorship by NutriAsia
by Altermidya Wednesday Aug 1st, 2018 4:44 PM
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The AlterMidya Network, a national network of independent media outfits in the Philippines, calls on the Philippine National Police and NutriAsia to drop all charges against the five journalists who were arrested while covering the dispersal of a strike by NutriAsia workers last July 30. AlterMidya also condemns the audacious move by NutriAsia to censor our journalists by attempting to have them sign a ‘quit claim’ waiver, which indicates that they will not release any story about the dispersal, among others, in exchange for having the charges against them dropped.

AlterMidya correspondents Eric Tandoc and Hiyasmin Saturay, editorial staff Avon Ang, and student intern Psalty Caluza, along with campus journalist Jon Bonifacio, were ordered released from detention today, together with workers of NutriAsia and their supporters. However, charges of violation of Batasan Pambansa 880 on illegal assembly, as well as public alarm and scandal, remain against the five journalists.

The filing of such charges against Filipino journalists are unprecedented in recent history, utterly baseless, and beyond ridiculous. They must be immediately dropped. The AlterMidya Network also calls out the management of NutriAsia for its outright violation of the constitutional right to freedom of the press through its coercive attempt at censorship. The question must be asked: why are they afraid of media coverage? What images and stories do they want hidden from the public?

We support plans by lawyers to file counter-charges against the PNP and NutriAsia security guards in behalf of the NutriAsia 19. Our correspondent Tandoc was among those beaten up by police and NutriAsia security forces. Video footage shows that Tandoc was clearly shooting with a video camera when he was grabbed and hit with truncheons. Video footage taken by Tandoc also shows campus journalist Bonifacio being violently dragged by police and security forces. This kind of violence inflicted upon journalists in the course of fulfilling their duties is unacceptable and is a travesty of press freedom.

Camera equipment worth around P100,00 and other equipment that have been confiscated from these journalists must be immediately returned as well.

The AlterMidya Network vows to continue to report on the NutriAsia workers strike faithfully and without fear, especially in the light of mainstream media coverage that fails to take the side of the workers into account. We call on other journalists to exercise truthful and critical reporting on the NutriAsia labor dispute, despite advertising interests of their media owners. Now more than ever, the Filipino people, especially the working class, needs journalism that will cut through, and not become an echo chamber of, lies that imperil their interests and their very lives.

The AlterMidya Network would also like to extend gratitude to our audience, media colleagues here and abroad, lawyers and other supporters who worked for the release of our journalists. We will continue to see to it that the NutriAsia 19 achieve justice for their injuries and unjust detention, and additionally for our media personnel, the violation of their right to report and fulfill their duty as journalists.

Defend press freedom!
No to media censorship! Uphold the people’s right to know!
Advance pro-people journalism!