Today's Punto
Today's Punto
PNP goes Gestapo

Feb 13, 2018

THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists of the Philippines is outraged by the Gestapolike methods the Philippine National Police utilized to verify the identities of journalists newly assigned to cover the organization.

While we welcome the assurance of PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao that they have put a stop to the heavyhanded vetting done by agents of what he now acknowledges is the Directorate for Intelligence, we reject his contention that “we have no other way to verify” the identities of reporters fresh to the beat.

Aside, of course, from the fact that the intelligence officers’ actions – tracking them, approaching or phoning them but refusing to identify themselves, visiting their homes and neighborhoods to ask about them – not only sow fear but border on the, if they are not actually, criminal.

Indeed, as Bulalacao himself admits, a simple phone call or letter to the editors or managements of news outfits – who, after all, any organization that purports to be in the business of state security should know – should be enough to establish reporters’ bonafides. As it has, indeed, been the norm for generations of journalists covering the police beat.

Surely, one does not need police spies to handle this routine task? Unless, of course, there is a more sinister explanation for this?

This concern is magnified by the fact that the organization primarily tasked to guard and protect the citizenry cannot even get its act together, with PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa denying the background checks only for Bulalacao to admit them.

The media deserve a more forthright accounting of how and why this fiasco ever came to be, plus an unequivocal pledge to never, ever again resort to such underhanded tactics against journalists.

The same tactics are applied to activists, politic dissenters critical of the Duterte administration makes it even more threatening.

Our right to privacy, communication and free movement are violated. We demand not only an apology but full disclosure of data collected about us.

(NUJP statement dated Feb. 8, 2018 signed by acting chair Atty. Jo M. Clemente)

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