‘Baka kalaban’: Authorities question TV reporter for taking video during traffic coverage in Marikina

June 26, 2020 - 3:10 PM
Screenshot of GMA News report of Mark Gene Makalalad. (Facebook/Mark Gene Makalalad)

Television reporter Mark Gene Makalalad of GMA News on Thursday shared on social media that he was questioned by the police after he did a live traffic report in Marikina City.

In his Facebook post, Makalalad detailed that he had just finished filming a report for GMA’s “Dobol B sa News TV” when a group of four men in uniform, later identified as two cops and two marine officers, approached him and asked for his identification card.

Today’s experience:I was doing a live traffic report in Marcos Highway (Marikina area) earlier, when a group of 4…

Posted by Mark Gene Makalalad on Thursday, June 25, 2020


The reporter noted that the incident occurred along Marcos Highway within the area of Marikina City, which was covered by the general community quarantine. Quarantine passes are no longer required under GCQ rules.

“Dapat po nagpaalam kayo sa amin na mag-la-live po kayo,” Makalalad quoted the officers as saying.

He then explained to authorities that he had never been made to ask permission to shoot live traffic in other locations for his daily live video report and asked if there is a new directive for live reporting.

The police responded that there was no new rule but told Makalalad that he might need to coordinate with the authorities because that they thought the reporter was video recording them.

As proof that he was filming the traffic situation along the main thoroughfare, Makalalad just showed the footage of his report

“So, pinakita ko yung cellphone ko and I showed them na hindi ko sila vinideohan. Isa pa, ang selfie live ko ang background ay traffic, hindi sila. I felt bad kasi napagbintangan ako,” Makalalad said.

To clarify the police’s line of question, Makalalad asked and argued:

“Ito ang argument ko, kunwari ordinary citizen lang ako at naglalalakad at nagvivideo, kunwari, vlogger, kailangan ko rin bang magpaalam sa kanila?”

Makalalad said that one of the officers responded: “Baka kasi sir kalaban ka,” adding that the reply caught him by surprise.

“Doon nagpantig ang tenga ko. Our conversation ended peacefully naman, I tried to understand them na lang since I respect our authorities,” the Kapuso reporter said.

After that brief encounter, Makalalad consulted with JTF COVID (Joint Task Force Coronavirus) shield Commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar if there was such an existing directive.

“Walang ganyang instruction, Mark,” Eleazar was quoted as saying in the post.

Makalalad’s Facebook post had since earned over 30,000 shares, 99 comments and 46,000 reactions, as of writing. More than half of these reactions or 25,000 of them were angry reactions.

What the police said

When the incident reached the chief of Marikina City Police, Police Colonel Restituto Arcangel defended his constituents, saying that they only confronted Makalalad because he was not wearing a uniform and an ID to indicate he’s a member of the media.

“I don’t think our troops did something inappropriate considering the circumstances. Hindi nila nakilala si Mark Makalalad dahil hindi siya naka-uniform, walang ID,” Arcangel said in a statement.

“Hindi nila napansin na may marked vehicle ng media, and then ‘yung gamit ni Mark Makalalad ay cellphone lang at hindi ‘yung usual na camera typically used by the media,” he added.

Local news organizations don’t normally require their reporters and other members of the media to wear uniforms even during coverage of events.

Meanwhile, some media organizations are also practicing mobile journalism or the usage of gadgets such as cellphones to report the news.

The Regional Mobile Force Battalion, the officers manning along Marcos Highway, also claimed that Makalalad “slightly raised” his voice at the security forces.

Captain Roderick Pacilan, the company commander, still expressed apology over the confrontation, adding that they have always been respectful to the media.

Journo comments

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-GMA Chapter urged the Philippine National Police to probe the law enforcers who accosted Makalalad.

Reference:NUJP GMA Chapter[Alert] GMA Reporter intimidated by authorities after doing a live report 25 June…

Posted by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Thursday, June 25, 2020


The group stressed that there is no law or directive that requires permission from the police to film at a public place.

“He said four policemen approached him to ask if he was with media and then made the utterly false claim that he needed their permission before going live and again that he had filmed them,” the group said.

“But even if they were included in the footage, which Makalalad proved to them they were not, there is no law prohibiting or requiring permission to shoot in a public place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Besides, they are public servants, officers of the law,” it added.

The NUJP also said that it is “horrifying” that cops perceive any Filipino can be considered a threat or an enemy.

Makalalad’s peers at the network, meanwhile, expressed concern about his welfare after and questioned the cops for raising such suspicion at him.

Screenshot by Interaksyon
Screenshot by Interaksyon

To make things light, veteran broadcaster Arnold Clavio quipped that they might be worried that his footage might have caught them red-handed.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

In January, ranking police officer Brigadier General Nolasco Bathan grabbed the cellphone of GMA reporter Jun Veneracion and attempted to delete a video coverage of the procession during Traslación.

The questioned footage showed a commotion between the devotees and the police officers at the Ayala Bridge in Manila during the Black Nazarene procession.

READ: Police general took the phone of TV reporter who later found his video coverage deleted

This incident was also denounced by the NUJP which cited that it was an abuse of authority.

“What Bathan did was not just an assault on press freedom. He also violated Veneracion’s rights as a citizen of the Republic,” the NUJP said.