Vice mayor behind ‘attack’ on mediamen


ROXAS City – A video footage showing a man giving orders to mob two mediamen has put the Sapian town vice mayor in hot water.

A man who requested for anonymity identified the man in the video as Vice Mayor Ralph Odrunia.

He said Ordunia ordered supporters Reynaldo Villanueva and Elsor Oducado Jose to mob Ratsada of GMA 7 Iloilo reporter Joecel Huesca and his cameraman John Philip Torino while covering the special elections the other day.

Odrunia’s brother Lyndon is one of the four candidates running for barangay captain in Brgy. Poblacion, Sapian.

However, Lyndon and two other candidates — Donie Oducado and Jorge Martinez — lost to Reynaldo Jamero.

Huesca and Torino were covering the special barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Brgy. Poblacion, Sapian held at the Sapian Central School when they were mobbed by election supporters.

Huesca identified Villanueva as the one who punched Torino on the head while the latter was taking footages.

Villanueva snatched the video camera from Torino, he said, but returned it after 30 minutes.

Other persons linked in the “attack” were Norberto Sabolbora, Mario Baldisimo and former Sangguniang Bayan member Odong Vista.

Huesca and Torino went to the police station, about 100 meters from the polling center, to report the incident. Their camera’s viewfinder was destroyed.

Ordunia cannot be reached for comment as of press time.

Sapian Mayor Arturo Orosco directed the Sapian police to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident.

He assured the public and the management of GMA 7 Iloilo that there will be no “whitewash” in the probe.

He said Sapian is very lucky on the presence of the media because this could preempt others in doing any irregularities.

Huesca and Torino, who came from Jamindan, earlier asked Board of Election Inspector member Mazel Acevedo if they could get footages of the ongoing election.

Several supporters wearing red and green shirts, Huesca said, inquired on who paid them to have the coverage.

Huesca told them that they were covering the special elections held after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) postponed the polls on Monday, and that no one paid them.

Acevedo said the mediamen also asked to conduct an interview, but she refused for they might disturb the voters.

She said she was surprised when the commotion later occurred./PN