Woman journalist survives attack
With presence of mind, will to resist
BAGUIO CITY (Sept. 20) — With presence of mind and the will to resist, a woman journalist and officer of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) survived an attack by a knife-wielding man at around 7:25 p.m. Sept. 19 in Brgy. Betag, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Abigail Bengwayan, 25, said she had just alighted from a jeepney and was walking on her way home when the attacker locked her arms, put the knifepoint against her neck, and warned her in Ilocano to keep quiet. The man wore a cap and handkerchief to cover his face.
Bengwayan however screamed to call the neighbors’ attention and struggled against his hold. Startled by her resistance, the assailant shoved her to the ground, but ran away when neighbors came to her aid.
According to reports from the CPA and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Bengwayan and her neighbors noticed that the assailant had a companion, which they claim must have served as lookout.
Bengwayan, a graduate of BS Human Ecology at the University of the Philippines, writes for the CPA publication Hapit, serves as the CPA Human Rights Officer, and is an occasional contributor to various media outlets. A former editor of Northern Dispatch Weekly, she is also a local council member of the NUJP’s Baguio-Benguet chapter.
The victim, accompanied by lawyer Kissack Gabaen and other CPA officers, reported the attack to the La Trinidad Police Office.
Atty. Gabaen claimed that the perpetrator meant to silence or harrass Bengwayan for her critical writings. “If the perpetrator intended to rob her, he should have announced it.”
In separate statements, the CPA and NUJP’s national and local councils condemned the attack and urged the police to immediately take action.
“Petty crime or not, work-related or not, the incident is worrisome for us journalists. Authorities must be on their toes in looking for the perpetrator,” NUJP Baguio-Benguet chair Artemio Dumlao Jr. said.
Bengwayan said she did not notice anyone tailing her. She added that the place of the incident, which is in front of the main gate of the Benguet State University and near the public market, is a busy area even at that time of night.
CPA Secretary General Windel Bolinget also disclosed that at around 7 p.m. that same night, another CPA officer was tailed by a suspicious motorcycle-riding man while on his way home from the CPA office. Bolinget said Santos Mero is spokesperson of Defend Patrimony – Cordillera and, like Bengwayan, is also CPA Public Information Officer. # Art Allad-iw for NORDIS