Television reporter Jun Veneracion of GMA News did not welcome the verdict of the investigation of the Philippine National Police into the police general who snatched his phone during a Traslacion 2020 coverage last month.
He retweeted a news item from a digital news outlet that reported about Brigadier General Nolasco Bathan of Metro Manila’s Southern Police District getting a “mere slap on the wrist” over the incident and even being promoted to a higher position.
“I really didn’t expect much from a flawed system. But to hand down a mere slap on the wrist is tantamount to a slap in the face for (the) aggrieved,” the veteran reporter tweeted.
In the thread of his post, Veneracion replied that PNP had “solved the investigation even without securing first a formal statement from the ‘victim.'”
In a press briefing on Monday, February 10, Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas revealed that the PNP has closed its investigation into the case of Bathan, citing that Veneracion has accepted the former’s apology.
The reporter, for his part, tweeted that he found it strange that such a reason would merit the charges to be dropped against Bathan.
“‘Yun din ang isa pang mali na dahilan. Hindi ko rin gets ang pag-iisip ng mga taga Regional IAS (Regional Internal Affairs Service),” Veneracion responded to a Twitter user who supported him.
In the press briefing, Sinas added that Bathan was punished with admonition and a warning which, reports noted, is “the mildest punishment for unruly cops.”
Bathan can be suspended, have his salary withheld or be completely dismissed from service but the police force failed to do so despite the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calling his action a clear “abuse of authority.”
The Southern Police District chief was instead promoted to the position of the deputy chief of operations of the National Capital Region Police Office, considered the third-highest post in the Metro Manila police force.
Sinas revealed that Bathan’s promotion was supposedly necessary so that “other junior officials under him can also move up.”
PNP chief General Archie Gamboa previously ordered a fresh batch of police officers to be relieved and placed in floating status due to various pending cases.
Last month, Veneracion’s phone was snatched by Bathan during a coverage of Traslacion, an annual religious procession dedicated to the Black Nazarene.
The reporter took a video of a commotion that happened among police officers and a Black Nazarene devotee — whom he described as “hapless” — in Ayala Bridge in Manila.
Bathan “suddenly darted out of nowhere,” grabbed Veneracion’s phone and “quickly moved away from the scene.”
When he managed to retrieve his phone, however, he discovered that the video has already been deleted, although not from the “Recently Deleted” folder.
The video also included a recording after his phone was snatched, which included a man giving instructions to delete the clip.
Bathan later on apologized and said that he thought Veneracion was “someone who possessed threat during the procession.”
He also denied that he was the one who instructed the video to be deleted, saying that the police station’s atmosphere was a “mess” during that time.
PNP later on opened an investigation into the incident and said that they will “not tolerate” such actions, adding that they “always respect the rights of the media to cover.”