By Gilroy Usher, Sr.
7 News Belize Monday September 28th, 2020: “UDP’s Phillip Willoughby is being pressured by a Port Loyola voter. Virginio Roaches is accusing the veteran politician of acting in a thuggish manner last week Friday. He is alleging that Willoughby almost pushed him off a bicycle which he was riding on while carrying a full tank of butane.
Willoughby says he did approach Roches to have a discussion about a previous exchange they’d had less than a month ago. He claims that while he was campaigning on JR Street in the Jane Usher Boulevard area, Roches insulted and disrespected him for an extended period of time.
Roches insists the assault happened and that he has reported the incident to police with the intent to press charges. He outlined his accusation to us about how it allegedly went down last Friday:”
“I was coming down Jane Usher Boulevard with my LPG tank full of gas. And I saw Mr. Willoughby jump out of his vehicle, pushed me in my side, while I was in the process of riding. [I] almost fell off my bicycle. I continued riding. I didn’t pay him any mind. I just continued riding.”
“Did he say anything?”
“All that he said [was] Roaches, I don’t want you to be disrespecting me, you know. I didn’t say anything.”
“I just continued riding, and when I reached home, I called the police, and I put it in the police’s hands. Because I call the radio station, and I make the people of Port Loyola know, Mr. Willoughby is in the area for the past 2 years, and he has done nothing for the Port. And I called the radio station, and now you will tell me that I disrespected you for that.”
“I have made a complaint to the Raccoon Street Police Station, and we will see what is the outcome of this investigation.”
“Are we certain that you aren’t here to try to attack his credibility? Are you any sort of PUP operative?”
“I am not trying to do so. That’s why I told Mr. Willoughby, if you said that I am
disrespecting you, you can just easily go to the police station and make a report saying that I am disrespecting you. You have not done so. You rather go through violence. I have the right to vote for who I want. I have the right to freedom of speech.”
Politicians of the ruling UDP attacking voters for criticizing them on the air is nothing new. A few months before the 1998 general elections UDP Ministers Eduardo Juan and Salvador Fernandez both stormed into a radio station in San Ignacio and put a beating on broadcaster Ramon Vasquez, for pointing their wanton neglect of their constituencies on a daily basis.
Also leading up to the 1998 Jessy Young was assaulted by then UDP Minister of State Samuel Rhaburn. In an encounter in the village of Bermudian Landing Young claimed that the Minister of State Rhaburn punched her for pointing out his total failure to address the needs of his people as the UDP Representative for Belize North. All three politicians lost their seats in the 98 elections.
More recently the Barrow administration barred 5 News Belize from covering it press conference for more than a month, because they thought the news organization was too critical of their policies.
Finally for more than a year so called “government-owned” B.T.L. has banned all advertisement from Plus TV, 5 News Belize, and Amandala newspaper for being too critical of the administration.
When Willoughby assaulted Nolberto Roaches on September 25th, 2020 for pointing out his terrible neglect of the Port Loyola division for the past two years, he was only following the precedent of ruling UDP politicians before him who attacked individuals and news organizations, who expose their neglect of the people they should represent.
The Constitution of Belize guarantees all Belizeans the right of Freedom of Speech. Any politician, who seeks to deny an individual or news organization that right should be rejected.