An attempt of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to make its presence felt ostensibly to ensure media workers safety in the midst of attacks and threats boomeranged, as a media member and journalist union expressed worry about the said police effort.
GMA reporter JP Soriano took the issue in a twitter post telling his experience when he was visited in his house by a plainclothes police officer to check on his security. Soriano said that the man presented his identification card and introduced himself as a police officer and told the GMA reporter that he just wanted to check what he was doing.
The police officer interviewed Soriano about whether he received any threats lately. It will be recalled that veteran broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa was gunned down last October 3, while threats against fellow broadcast journalists Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra went viral on social media last week. During the said visit, the officer asked Soriano if he could take a picture with him but the reporter refused.
Soriano clarified that the issue here was not the intention of the PNP to help and protect (media workers), which is something that he can appreciate personally, but he questioned why in his own house.. He added that “How and where did they (police) get his home address? And why the need to take a picture? What for?”
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that visits would only “Add to our anxiety as these were done without coordination with newsrooms”.
The group added that “Assuming good faith, these meetings and dialogues are best done through newsrooms or through the various press corps, press clubs and journalists’ organizations in the capital”.
In response to the backlash, PNP NCRPO Chief Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo immediately ordered all police commanders and station chiefs to “refrain from doing the same. The NCRPO Chief personally apologized to all media friends and said that an investigation is already in place pertaining to this incident. According to the NCRPO Chief, the officer involved had been identified and summoned to an inquiry, he said that Markina police chief Col. Benliner Capili, where the incident occurred, will carry out the investigation.
The said effort was in response by PNP chief Gen. Rodolgo Azurin Jr on the Mabasa.killing which directed the NCRPO to hold dialogues with media personalities within its jurisdiction to get a sense of the danger that reporters were facing.
Last Oct. 7, NCRPO Estomo ordered five police districts in Metro Manila to closely coordinate with media personalities in their respective areas to identify possible threats against them. This is to preempt similar events from happening in the future.
Report said that two hours after Soriano posted his experience in social media, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos called and assured the GMA reporter that the police officer’s visit would be immediately investigated and he would be provided with any assistance he may need.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker in the House of Representatives wants the incident probe. According to ACT Teachers party list Rep. France Castro, the police visit in the house of GMA reporter JP Soriano is like the same modus conducted by members of state forces in other areas.
The lawmaker cited the meeting of their members in Masbate where some teachers who attended the meeting were ‘visited’ by uniformed personnel. Likewise, she also cited the incident in Metro Manila where police officers reportedly went to the house of a known left-leaning public figure to validate the details about the personality.
“We think that this incident has to be investigated by Congress and should not be taken as an isolated incident and be viewed on the wider perspective of media harassment, red-tagging and extra-judicial killings,” she said.