February 22, 2016
INC ‘Men in Black’ Harassed US-based Inquirer and ABS-CBN Reporters
Several men in dark suits and wearing dark glasses and walkie-talkie earpieces followed and harassed Inquirer and ABS CBN reporters covering an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) church dedication service here. The men in black suspected to be security staff Nimfa Rueda, Inquirer’s Los Angeles Correspondent, said the men kept staring down at her and ABS CBN reporter Steve Angeles as they waited on a public walkway in front of the INC church compound on Mount Vernon in Bakersfield, California.
INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, who is in the United States for a series of pastoral visits, was leading the dedication service. Angeles said some of them remarked, “biased ABS CBN” and “boycott ABS CBN.” “A group of them followed us as we made our way to my car,” he said. “One of them was videotaping us and he circled my car and took shots of my car’s license plate. I said, ‘Is this really necessary?’”
Rueda, who is chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-US Chapter, said she asked them “Why are you following us?” The three men did not respond, instead, one of them told the others, “why are we following them daw” and continued to stare down at them, she said. Rueda added that when she approached the fence of the compound to get a good view of the attendees as they came out of the church with plackards welcoming Manalo, one of the men said, “Baka masabit ka dyan” referring to the spear-top fence, then another said, “Pag nangyari yan, it’s God’s will.” She also heard one of the men say “Pwede natin i-grab yan,” referring to Angeles’ camera. Angeles and Rueda said some of the men tried to block their cameras with plackards as they took a video of the airplane banner with a message from the INC Defenders. “We (were) just doing our jobs….Trying to tell a fair and balanced story about stuff going on,” Angeles said in his Facebook post. Thanks, all, for your support!
RYAN D. ROSAURO