NPC twits hostage prober for blaming radio station

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2010 05:09 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2010 01:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Press Club on Monday criticized a member of the official Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) for blaming several mediamen for exacerbating the August 23 hostage-taking incident.

In a statement, NPC Director Joel Egco said Teresita Ang-See, who represents the Filipino-Chinese community in the investigation, should focus on finding facts and not find fault in the resource persons invited to the IIRC hearings.

"As a fact-finder, her obligation is only to gather facts.  As such, she is morally prohibited from lambasting and blaming the witnesses, particularly reporters and anchors, testifying before the Incident Investigation Review Committee," Egco said in a statement.

The NPC said among the goals of the IIRC inquiry are: to know who should be sanctioned; to know what should be corrected; to know how the government could be more effective in dealing with similar future incidents; for the journalists to know how they should conduct their coverage the next time around; and to get the truth to heal the wounds inflicted on Hong Kong residents, particularly the families of those who died in the hostage crisis.

The NPC said Ang-See was too emotional when she accused RMN-DZXL anchors Jake Maderazo, Mike Rogas and Erwin Tulfo of wrongdoing in the hostage crisis.

"If Mrs. Ang-See cannot hold off her emotion, the Club respectfully requests her to inhibit from the ongoing investigation so that the purpose of the query is achieved," the group said.

The NPC also noted that Ang-See's tirade constitutes violations of press freedom that cannot be abridged under Section 4, Article III of the Constitution.

Ang-See earlier said RMN-DZXL violated the 2007 Broadcast Code of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster of the Philippines (KBP) when its anchors interviewed hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza during a crucial part of the crisis, preventing police negotiators from contacting him.

She said RMN-DZXL anchor Michael Rogas interfered with the negotiations when he talked to Mendoza even while a police negotiator was telling the hostage-taker that he would ask his superiors to give in to his demands.

“During the most critical time when (police negotiator) Orlando Yebra was trying to calm down Mendoza by offering to talk to the bosses and reinstate him, Rogas kept butting in and calling ‘Captain Mendoza! Captain Mendoza!’ He kept on butting in and diverting the focus of Mendoza so that probably he didn’t hear what Yebra was trying to offer to calm him down. Is that not interference at all?” she asked RMN anchor Erwin Tulfo.

Ang-See also blamed the radio station for inciting Mendoza to shoot the hostages after it gave the hostage-taker the arena to “grandstand” and make his demands on-air.

She noted that police had already turned down twice Tulfo’s request to interview the hostage-taker because they did not want Mendoza to have a venue to air his demands. Similar requests made by ABS-CBN News and GMA-7 were also turned down, she said.