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Government Press Office responds to Amandala’s claim it was banned from press event

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2018. 6:14 pm CST.

BBN Staff:  The Government of Belize Press office today issued a release refuting the claims made by the Amandala newspaper, in which it accuses GOB’s Press Office Director, Dorian Pakeman of denying an Amandala journalist access to the arrival of Taiwan’s president.

GOB’s press office says that the story Amandala published is “fallacious”.

According to the statement, Pakeman did not bar the Amandala or any other media house from attending the arrival ceremonies for President Tsai Ing-Wen at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on Thursday, August 16.

The press office says that there are major discrepancies between what actually happened and the Amandala’s account of the events.

The press office recounted the events that occurred. According to the statement, on Thursday, at 8:46 a.m., the Press Office was forwarded an email by Enrique Hoare, Operations Manager at PGIA, requesting a list of names for members of the press who would be attending the arrival ceremony.

The Press Office says that they contacted every major media house in Belize in an effort to provide  Hoare with the list.

The Press Office says that a representative from the Amandala could not be reached and a text message was sent to the news director of the sister company, Krem News, in an attempt to contact the Amandala.

At 10:27 a.m. the news director at Krem contacted the press office informing that Rowland Parks would be representing Amandala at the ceremony scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

An email was then sent to Hoare informing him of the same. Three minutes later at 10:30 a.m., he acknowledged receipt.

Prior to the arrival of President Tsai, an information officer from the Press Office was stationed at the screening section of PGIA. She assisted all members of the media who showed up on time to be screened and they were then escorted to the tarmac.

President Tsai arrived at 2:30 p.m. as scheduled, and at 2:37 p.m. Pakeman received a phone call from Roland Parks asking why his name was not on the list and why he was not being allowed on the tarmac.

The press office says that Pakeman informed him that: 1) his name was sent to be included on the list, 2) he was late and no one would be allowed on the tarmac after the plane had landed, and 3) the security at PGIA was responsible for not allowing him access and not the Press Office.

GOB’s Press Office now claims that Parks then handed the phone to another individual who identified himself as Russell Vellos, the editor-in-chief at the Amandala. Vellos, in a very boisterous and aggressive manner, asked  Pakeman to allow entry to Rowland Parks.

The Press Office says that Pakeman apprised Vellos of the same information he had given  Parks.

“Pakeman also noted that the ceremony had already begun and he could not leave his post. It was at that point  Vellos, as admitted in the article, began to shout obscenities into the phone to which Pakeman responded by ending the phone call. Upon the conclusion of the arrival ceremony,  Pakeman called Rowland Parks at 3:09 p.m. to express that he had no jurisdiction over the security at PGIA and it might be best he reaches out to them for further clarification as to why he was not allowed on the tarmac,” the statement explains.

Furthermore, GOB’s Press Office says that it did not bar Parks from the tarmac during the arrival ceremony of President Tsai, “There are security measures in place at the PGIA that are beyond the control of the Press Office. The Government of Belize does not own, operate, nor manage the PGIA.”

The Press Office also calls out Vellos describing his behavior as being  “unprofessional and unbecoming of someone who is in charge of what he claims to be the most respected newspaper in Belize.”

The Government of Belize Press office says that it will continue to accommodate all media houses during official events, including the Amandala, where it is within their power to do so.



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