CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Dec. 6, 2010â€”Two lady employees and a lady news reporter of the defunct Periodico News Network (PNN) have filed complaints of rape and harassment before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against their former publisher.
The complainants accused Winston Fermin Visitacion, a.k.a. Boy Visitacion of raping and harassing them.
Another rape case has also been filed with the City Prosecutorâ€™s Office in neighboring Malaybalay City in Bukidnon province by one of the victims.
Lawyer Dale Bryan D. Mordeno, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Misamis Oriental Chapter said IBPâ€™s free legal aid group will be mobilized to assist the complainants.
Lawyer Santiago â€œBobbyâ€ Goking, president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) also supported the complainantsâ€™ cases against Visitacion.
Goking also urged other victims of sexual harassment and molestation, and acts of lasciviousness to come out and pursue their cases against Visitacion, who also used the alias â€œBoy Fermin,â€ â€œFermin Visitacion,â€ â€œBoy Canastra,â€ â€œFermin Canastraâ€ in his articles.
The Tubaga Movement, a support group for abused women and PARTNERâ€™s Inc., a non-government organization (NGO), also promised to assist the complainants by providing lawyers and counseling to the victims of sexual abuse.
â€œWe are preparing the paperworks and other resources in partnership with the NUJP (National Union of Journalist of the Philippines),â€ said Stan Salcedo, PARTNERâ€™s, Inc. project manager.
The NUJP has pledged to provide resources in the filing of cases against Visitacion and members of the management of the defunct PNN.
â€œThe case of the former workers of the PNN falls under our program on media welfare,â€ said Joseph Ben â€œJBâ€ Deveza, Safety Officer of NUJP-Mindanao.
Deveza said he is also enlisting the help of Gabriela in providing protection to the victims.
One of the complainants, Katrina (not her real name), a news reporter for the former PNN, said that she was sexually molested by Visitacion twice, once in Dynasty Hotel and the other time in Chali Beach Resort in September 2010.
After sexually abusing her, Visitacion told a crying Katrina to go on news coverage.
She said that Visitacion had demoted her prior to the sexual assault and even threatened to dismiss her from the paper.
Another victim, Kristine (not her real name), a marketing staff assigned in Bukidnon, said she was sexually abused by Visitacion in a hotel in Davao City in August 2010. She said that Visitacion ordered her to travel to Davao for a marketing meeting.
Upon checking in at a hotel, Visitacion told her to take a bath so that she will feel fresh when sleeping. However, she was awakened in her sleep by Visitacion, who was groping her body. When she tried to resist, she was told by the suspect: â€œAyaw kahadluk kay kay gi-isip ta na ka nga akong anak (Donâ€™t be afraid since I treat you as my daughter).â€
Several female employees of the former PNN are also set to file sexual abuse cases against Visitacion.
Aside from rape, sexual molestation, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, other former PNN staff also complained against Visitacion for violation of several labor laws, including not paying salaries since July 15, estafa and others.
Taking their future into their own hands, after Visitacion left with so much baggage, the former staff and workers of PNN constructively took over operation of the newspaper network, the publisher of the English daily the former Daily Corridor and the Cebuano tabloid Periodico Mindanaw.
They then formed the first cooperative news publishing with the support of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and several other established cooperatives in Mindanao.
Thus was born the PeriodiCoop, which now publishes the Corridor Daily and the Mindanao Periodico.
In its maiden issue since it became a cooperative, the Corridor Daily bannered the frontpage editorial that encapsulated the travails of the former PNN staff under Visitacion.
â€œSince July of this year, salaries of employees started to come in trickles…while owners of PNN billeted themselves in posh hotels when they could have rented an apartment, and rented luxury vans when they could have bought second hand cars for mobility,â€ the editorial said.
In his Facebook shoutout, PeriodiCoop Chairperson Bencyrus Ellorin wrote: â€œYou donâ€™t take over a business fraught with fraud, deceit, abuse, and financially bleeding. You start anewâ€ in explaining what the former PNN staff and workers did in forming PeriodiCoop.
Ellorin also expressed deep gratitude to the strong support coming from various sectors.
â€œWe are very much heartened by the support we are getting. This motivates us to work double time to remedy the injustice the staff have suffered under the abusive management regime of the PNN and at the same time run our cooperative newspaper,â€ he said.
Big cooperative formations have took turns meeting with leaders of the PeriodiCoop to enlist their support and assistance to the fledgling cooperative which is the first of its kind in Mindanao. (Bong D. Fabe)