Sinas: I did not order removal of Rappler reporter from NCRPO Viber group | Inquirer News
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Sinas: I did not order removal of Rappler reporter from NCRPO Viber group

/ 02:30 PM May 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas on Thursday denied he ordered the removal of a Rappler reporter in the official Viber group of journalists covering the Metro Manila police.

“’Di ko inutos ‘yan. Hindi ko masyadong kilala si Rambo pero nakikita ko ‘yan sa mga press con (I did not order that. I do not know Rambo that much but I see him in press conferences),” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines, referring to reporter Rambo Talabong who was removed by NCRPO spokesperson Maj. Britz Estadilla in the Viber group on Wednesday.

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His removal in the group came after he reported that Sinas had a birthday celebration in the NCRPO headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on May 8 despite the ban on mass gathering in areas under enhanced community quarantine. Photos of the celebration were posted by the official Facebook page of NCRPO but were later deleted.

Sinas explained he is not the one maintaining the Viber group for reporters covering NCRPO. He also said he will ask Estadilla about the matter.

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Estadilla has yet to respond to INQUIRER.net’s query on who gave the order to have Talabong removed in the group as well as the basis for Talabong’s removal.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rappler called out this action, saying it “constitutes prior restraint on the freedom of the press and the right to free speech.”

“By removing Mr. Talabong from the channel where a government office communicates and coordinates with journalists, the NCRPO is impairing Rappler’s ability to serve the public’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to know,” the online media platform said.

“We expect the NCRPO leadership and its PIO to approach and resolve this matter responsibly and professionally. Our reporter did nothing wrong but truthfully report what happened – all part of his job as a journalist,” it added.

Rappler also said that Talabong should immediately be reinstated in the NCRPO’s Viber group for reporters and that “there is no justifiable reason why he should not.”

Sinas earlier apologized for the holding of his birthday event although all forms of mass gatherings are prohibited under the enhanced community quarantine; he also said there is “nothing wrong” about it. He even claimed some photos circulating on social media were edited and from old posts.

Nevertheless, the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) is conducting an investigation on the matter.

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TAGS: birthday, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debold Sinas, ECQ, Local news, Mañanita, Metro, metro news, nCoV update, NCRPO, News, Philippine news updates, Rappler
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