DoJ orders transfer of press officeBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DoJ) has ordered that the press office be removed from its main building, citing a security recommendation by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima approved the proposal to move the reporters to an adjacent building from the current office they have been occupying for more than 20 years.
This came following DOJ’s failure to identify who was responsible for leaking the 99-page report that recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against director Gaudencio Pangilinan and six other officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over the alleged anomalous renovation project at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
Officials said, the NICA assessment was about the overall security situation at the DoJ, which was described as a “nightmare”, and the reorganization was in accordance with the recommendation made by intelligence agency.
In a dialogue with reporters late Thursday, Justice Undersecretaries Jose Vicente Salazar, Fransisco Baraan III and Leah Armamento said the decision to transfer the media office was a result of a reorganization plan, placing all officials of the DoJ on the second floor of the building for better coordination.
“If we don’t do this, we would not be able to address a lot of concerns,” Salazar said.
He said he believes that the DOJ will be able to work more efficiently if the offices of the officials and prosecutors are housed in the same building.
“Hindi kami nagpapaganda. You see it from a different perspective because you play a role in society. We also play a role in the society,” he said.
“Sana makita n’yo ang respetong pinapakita namin sa inyo sana tulungan n’yo kami na ma-implement ito,” he said.
But the officials gave assurances that the media would not be restricted.
They said interviews will still be allowed as long as proper coordination with the DoJ’s public information office is made.
But the reporters protested the plan saying it was not about location but the coordination of all the officials working together that would make an agency function effectively.
Both groups insisted that they too would like to work without restraint.
The press office housing the Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA) has been at the DoJ since 1977, after its founding members inked a memorandum of agreement with then Minister of Justice Vicente Abad Santos to occupy that corner in the west wing on the second floor of the building.
The Justice Reporters Organization (JUROR), on the other hand, was set up in the mid-1980s, after the restoration of democracy with the instalment of then president Corazon Aquino in Malacañang, and they were given their own press area.