Police general who snatched reporter’s cell phone says sorry, thought it was a ‘threat’

The police general who snatched away the cell phone of reporter Jun Veneracion as he filmed officers manhandling a devotee during the Black Nazarene procession yesterday apologized this afternoon, claiming he thought the innocuous piece of personal technology “posed a threat.”

Brigadier General Nolasco Bathan made the apology during a press conference today in Quezon City, where he read from a statement saying, “I would like to apologize for what happened at Ayala Bridge during the procession of the Black Nazarene 2020 where I confiscated the cellular phone of a video personality who was later on identified as Mr. Jun Veneracion of GMA 7, thinking that he was someone who possessed [a] threat during the procession.”

According to Manila Bulletin, Bathan also attempted to spin his phone snatching into a testament to his own bravery, saying, “Even if that were a grenade, I would have taken it to save lives.” (Uhhhh, sure.)

However, despite his insistence that he was motivated purely by his noble commitment to duty, Veneracion’s account of the altercation — not to the mention the video itself — called Bathan’s version of events very much into question.

Veneracion recalled in a Facebook post that Bathan stole his phone away from him while he was recording a video of police roughly subduing a devotee. When Bathan finally returned his cellphone (after some testy back-and-forth), Veneracion noticed that the video had been erased from the device. When the reporter asked the cop about it, the latter swore he hadn’t deleted anything, adding that “the Black Nazarene is my witness.”

However, Veneracion was able to recover the video, in which a voice, supposedly belonging to Bathan, can be heard saying, “That video that was taken by Jun Veneracion, erase it.”

When asked during today’s press conference whether he ordered a cop to delete the video from Veneracion’s phone, Bathan repeatedly answered, “I don’t know,” according to Rappler.

Veneracion, meanwhile, told GMA News Online that the cop had already apologized to him through a text message and that he had accepted the apology.

The Department of Interior and Local Government, which oversees the country’s police force, has said they will investigate the incident.

This article, Police general who snatched reporter’s cell phone says sorry, thought it was a ‘threat’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!