Southern Police District (SPD) chief Police Brigadier General Nolasco Bathan on Friday apologized to GMA News reporter Jun Veneracion for seizing his phone during the Black Nazarene feast on Thursday.
Facing reporters at Kamuning Police Station 10, Bathan said what happened between him and Veneracion was a misunderstanding, adding that he thought the reporter “poses threat to the activity.”
“I would like to apologize for what happened at Ayala Bridge during the procession of the Black Nazarene 2020 wherein I confiscated the cellular phone of a media personality who was later on identified as Mr. Jun Veneracion of GMA 7, thinking that he was someone who poses [a] threat to the procession,” Bathan said.
"What happened between me and Mr. Veneracion was somehow a misunderstanding and I again sincerely apologize for my actions," Bathan said, adding that police were just ensuring peace and order in the area.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Veneracion said Bathan also sent an apology to him via a text message.
“Apologies accepted,” Veneracion said when asked what was his reply to the police general.
Earlier reports said Bathan snatched the cellphone of Veneracion when the former saw the latter capturing an incident where a cop was seizing a Black Nazarene devotee along Ayala Bridge.
After 20 minutes, Veneracion’s phone was returned to him, but the video he had captured was already in the “Recently Deleted” album.
Bathan maintained that he was not the one who had ordered the video to be deleted.
“I do not know that portion. Wala akong alam kung mayroon mang na-delete,” he said.
According to National Capital Region Police Office acting director Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, the regional Internal Affairs Service will investigate the matter.
“We’ll still have our investigation kay General Bathan as part of the protocol. I’ll be directing the regional IAS to do the investigation to clarify matters,” Sinas said.
Despite the probe, Sinas said Bathan would not be relieved from his post.
‘Leader of the agitators’
To further clarify what happened, Sinas explained that the man, who was on the video that Veneracion captured, was the supposed leader of the “agitators” who were shouting in the area.
“Actually, siya po ang leader ng mga agitators, siya ‘yung nagsisigaw doon ng ‘Viva! Viva!’ Siya ang pinakaleader ng group na bumangga kaya ang ginawa ng mga kasamahan natin, inuna ‘yung mga agitators kaya siya tinake-down para di na makagalaw,” Sinas said.
Sinas said police did not detain the supposed leader of the agitators.