03-31-2011, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Media men manhandled by Philippine security men for US envoy
By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer 3/30/2011
Media men were manhandled by the Philippine military security assigned to guard United States Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas while he was giving an interview at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center on Wednesday morning.
Security at the military hospital in Quezon City was extra-tight because of Thomas' presence for the inauguration of a new military biomedical research laboratory funded by the US.
Reporters covering the defense beat, including this reporter, were invited to cover the inauguration, which also had Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin as guest of honor.
But during the chance interview with Thomas after the affair, Filipino security guarding the ambassador roughly shoved at TV cameramen to prevent them from getting a video and even groped at a female reporter who was holding a microphone in front of the ambassador.
An Army colonel who could not be immediately identified but who acted as part of the AFP Medical Center security also bodily prevented a cameraman from taking a better position with the warning “Subukan mo ako itulak, tatamaan ka sa akin (If you push me, I'll hit you).”
Security personnel of the hospital prevented the media from taking a chance to interview Thomas before he left the hospital grounds.
The American ambassador's security aides had no reason to roughly handle the media men since he agreed to be interviewed.
When he stepped out of the AFP Medical Center's Emergency Room lobby to a car waiting outside, Thomas was approached by reporters.
“Can we ask a few questions?” a reporter asked.
“Oh sure go ahead,” Thomas replied.
While Thomas was giving his view about the military being perceived as the most corrupt government agency, security escorts kept on blocking cameramen and shoving at reporters.
One escort kept on shoving at the throat of one cameraman and pushing his camera up, that the cameraman finally blurted out an expletive in frustration.
Pausing, Thomas said: “No profanities. Walang putang ina.”
A female reporter who was holding a microphone in front of the ambassador felt that hands touched her chest twice as security escorts shoved at her even while Thomas was already talking.
The chance interview with the American ambassador lasted only a few minutes.
Gazmin avoided the media altogether by leaving the hospital through another exit.