By HERBIE GOMEZ
Editor in chief
and JOEY NACALABAN
REP. Juliette Uy of Misamis Oriental’s 2nd District drew flak after she berated a radio reporter covering congressmen who came over to look into last year’s controversial shipments of garbage from South Korea to the province.
The congressmen, members of the House committee on good governance and public accountability, were here for a two-day inspection and public hearing.
Reporters said Rep. Uy first berated Magnum Radio reporter Menzie Montes on Thursday, shortly after the congresswoman stepped down from a vehicle to inspect the plant of VNS Verde Soko Philippines Inc. at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan town.
Montes told the Gold Star Daily that she and other reporters were outside the Verde Soko plant, and she started taking photos of the congressmen who started arriving.
Montes said she smiled at Uy while she held her smartphone up to take a photo when the congresswoman, frowning, raised her voice.
“Unsa ka, ‘violet’? Espiya sa violet?” Montes quoted the congresswoman as asking her.
“Violet” is the favorite color of former Cagayan de Oro mayor and Padayon founding leader Vicente Emano. The color has long been associated with the local party, and members and supporters.
Montes said she replied: “Media ko, Cong (congresswoman).”
Hearing this, Montes said Uy responded: “Aw, lain raba ang media kay violet ug green.”
“Green” is associated with the National Unity Party (NUP), the political party of Uy, her husband Julio, a former vice governor now challenging the reelection bid of Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
Montes said she told Uy that she had no “color” before she proceeded to the Verde Soko plant.
She said she avoided Uy but she saw the congresswoman glaring at her sharply inside while she was interviewing another official.
The reporter said she was offended and humiliated by Uy whom she said did not behave like a professional.
Adding insult to injury, Montes said, Uy’s supporters vilified her with their posts on Facebook, accusing her of being partisan.
“I was there to do a story about the trash from South Korea. I went there as a reporter. I am not partisan,” Montes told the Gold Star Daily.
Michael Tolang, a stringer for GMA 7, said he and other reporters felt bad about how the congresswoman treated Montes.
“She was there to cover a story, and report what took place. She didn’t deserve that,” said Tolang, adding that politicians should stop treating reporters like they are partisan.
Tolang said Montes was not the only one berated by Uy. “We were interviewing someone when I heard a loud voice behind me.”
He said when he looked behind, he saw the congresswoman confronting former broadcaster Rene Malferrari apparently because of one of his Facebook posts.
Jigger Jerusalem, a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said he would bring the matter to the attention of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club. He is currently the local press club’s corporate secretary.
Like other reporters who covered the story, he said he also felt bad that the congresswoman treated Montes that way. It was, he said, uncalled for.
COPC president Ritchie Salloman called Uy’s act “uncalled for” and “unprofessional.”
Salloman said politicians like Uy should not presume that all reporters engage in partisan politics.
“It was actually an act of harrassment and intimidation,” said Salloman, adding that it was wrong for the congresswoman to label reporters either “violet” or “green.”
He added: “It was very clear that Montes and other media colleagues were there to cover an event. Their presence there should be acknowledged rather than be met with insults.”
Pamela Orias, a Sunstar-Cagayan de Oro reporter, said politicians need to understand that the job of the report is to cover anything and anyone regardless of “political colors” and that their work is to make sure that “the news will come out as it is.”
Orias said a public figure who lashes out at any media personality doing his or her work “is irresponsible.”