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Police caught forcibly tampering with reporter’s phone during Translacion

It seems inevitable for the annual Translacion, a gathering of thousands of devotees on the streets of Manila, to get its fair share of chaos and collateral accidents. Aside from leaving 300 tons of trash in its wake and having dehydrated devotees fainting in the middle of the procession, the latest in the list of Translacion mishaps is the circulating report that veteran reporter Jun Veneracion’s phone was grabbed from him after he was caught video recording an ongoing scuffle in the crowd.

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“There are good cops but there [are] some who think they can get away with murder. Here’s my personal account of an unpleasant encounter with a high-ranking police officer while covering Translacion 2020,” Veneracion writes in a Facebook post. He recounts, “While taking footage on my phone of a commotion between cops and a hapless Black Nazarene devotee on Ayala Bridge in Manila, a police general suddenly darted out of nowhere and snatched my mobile unit. He quickly moved away from the scene.

The Philippines continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists

According to his post, his phone was eventually returned to him, but upon checking the gallery he found that the incriminating footage had been deleted. Thankfully, the Recently Deleted feature of the iPhone photo gallery kept the video stored, which allowed Veneracion to post it online and have it broadcasted on national television. That being said, this was definitely not one of those “inevitable accidents brought on by the large crowd. It was done with the intent to tamper with Veneracion’s footage, plain and simple. 

It was done with the intent to tamper with Veneracion’s footage, plain and simple. 

The Philippines continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and after hearing about this incident, which occurred in broad daylight during one of the most populated events in the capital, it is a statement that continues to ring true.

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District commander B/Gen. Nolasco Bathan claims that he did not recognize the veteran reporter, but by the end of the video you can hear his angry instructions recorded: “Burahin mo, burahin mo kuha ni Jun Veneracion. Pu#!#! ina nagku-kwan eh.

Watch the full video below.

UPDATE: B/Gen. Bathan, the chief of the Southern Police district, has apologized for confiscating “the cellphone of a media personality who was later identified as Mr. Jun Veneracion of GMA News.” Because of course he is. His name, face and rank are now circulating the internet at a rapid pace , accompanied by Jun Veneracion’s full video recording which exposes both media censorship and police brutality right on our streets.

This begs the question of whether the police thought apologies are in order because people were hurt and media footage was compromised or simply because the whole event is being narrated by a known reporter aided by damning footage. We have yet to hear a peep from the police about the devotees who were harmed during this scuffle, so I guess that answers that.

Art by Cathy Dizon

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