Town vice mayor accused of mauling journalist

Pilar town Mayor Francisco Gonzaga (left accused of mauling journalist Edito Mapayo. Sourced photo/newsline.ph

Surigao del Norte, Philippines — A town mayor is accused of mauling  and punching journalist in public view in the town of Pilar Saturday morning, September 23, 2017.

Among those who witnessed the incident include Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial and other regional health officials and  several local officials.

The journalist victim was  identified Edito Mapayo, editor-in-chief of Pinas Balita, a Surigao City-based weekly newspaper was slapped and physically assaulted by Dapa town Vice Mayor Francisco “Junjun” Gonzales.

Fellow journalist and broadcaster including Ubial was caught flat-footed.

Mapayo said he was in Pilar town to cover the launching of the pilot polyclinic of the town’s district hospital.

A teary-eyed Mapayo narrated “I was just standing  when I noticed he came closer to me, a thing I did not mind, but as soon as he was close to me–without any word he punched my head three times, he tried to knock me down, I parried his punches by covering my head with my arms and he kept punching my body.”

Broadcaster King dela Rosa, of RPN-DXKS, who witnessed the incident still could not believed it happened “I cannot believe what I saw. It’s barbaric act and unbecoming of a public official, the fact that he did it in public, it has a serious message to us”.

Gonzales, is the nephew of former Congressman Francisco Matugas, whose family dominates Surigao del Norte’s politics.

Efforts to reach Gonzales through his mobile found futile, as the same did not answer Newsline.ph phone calls.

Mapayo reported the incident in the town’s police district.

Mapayo said Gonzalez may have an axe to grind at him for the several articles he wrote about corruption cases involving the officials, including the vice mayor’s recent suspension order from the anti-graft court. Mapayo said he will file appropriate cases against the vice mayor.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph with reports from PNA