MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang does not see Raymart Santiago's attack on Mon Tulfo as an assault on journalism or press freedom and distanced itself from the incident.
"Let's not do inductive reasoning here and we do not wish to be drawn to that particular scuffle between the Santiagos and Mr. Mon Tulfo," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters, when asked if he shares the view of some legislators that the incident at the NAIA should be considered as an attack against journalists.
Meantime, Lacierda said airport authorities are investigating problems concerning the offloading of baggages and airport delays.
Tulfo, a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was involved in a brawl with actor Raymart Santiago and members of his party Sunday.
The columnist said he was taking a video of Santiago's wife, actress Claudine Barretto, who was berating an airline staff over their missing luggage.
He said it was Santiago who started the fight when he tried to take away his (Tulfo's) cellphone.
Meanwhile, the National Press Club (NPC) took up the cudgels for Tulfo and described the brawl as an attack on press freedom.
In a statement, the NPC said that while only an objective investigation can determine what started the fight, it said Tulfo was "only exercising his obligation as journalist when, according to him, he started taking video footage of Ms. Baretto while in the act of confronting a staffer of Cebu Pacific Air."
“As prominent members of Philippine cinema and television, Mr. Santiago and Claudine are public figures whose every word and action any member of the press are free to record and report,” said Benny
Antiporda, the newly-elected president of the National Press Club (NPC), where Tulfo is also a lifetime member.
“What happened at the NAIA 3 is not a simple case of misunderstanding between passengers but an example of the culture of impunity still prevalent in our society where public figures like the Santiago couple are willing to resort to physical violence against a member of the press who is just doing his job at the moment," he added. With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News