JOURNALISTS covering the police beat including Camp Crame are up in arms in connection with an order purportedly issued by Philippine National Police chief General Ronald dela Rosa instructing all police units and offices to deny the media access to police spot reports.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines called this “illegal” and demanded Dela Rosa “withhold” the order.
“We likewise urge police commanders not to obey a patently illegal order,” NUJP secretary-general Dabet Panelo said.
Print and broadcast journalists assigned at Camp Crame beat called the order “outlandish.”
“A police spot report is a public document that should be available to everyone, not just media, [under] the principle of transparency and accountability,” explained Panelo.
Dela Rosa issued the directive shutting the doors to the Commission on Human Rights for any access to the PNP case folders.
On Tuesday, the CHR also got only P1,000 budget from the House of the Representatives as the agency has been very vocal against state-perpetrated extra-judicial killings in connection with President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
In one of the most recent Senate hearings presided over by Senator Panfilo Lacson, upon the senator’s prodding, Dela Rosa and CHR Chairman Chito Gascon, after a slight discussion, agreed to meet to talk about the PNP case folders of all the drug-related killings.
But no report of such meeting—if it happened or not—until Dela Rosa’s order on the spot report issue broke out in the media.
In the order, the only information reporters could have access to was a press release copy.
“Suggestions that press releases will be issued in lieu of allowing access to spot reports are not acceptable. Press releases, by their very nature, are sanitized and angled to favor the issuing body and are, thus, not an objective source of information,” Panelo said.
Panelo said it was unacceptable for the PNP to “cloak its operations in secrecy” because a police spot report was a public document.
“We urge colleagues to raise our collective voice in condemnation of this blatant efforts to withhold the truth and, if needed, to be ready to seek all legal redress,” Panelo said.
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