House leader asks PNP to probe police ‘intimidation’ of dzBB reporter
MANILA, Philippines — A House leader is calling on the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the alleged police intimidation of a GMA-dzBB radio reporter after doing a live traffic report in Marikina City.
Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said PNP should look into the incident as well as other cases of alleged harassment involving the police force against members of the media.
Hataman made the call just a week after he sought a probe on the alleged “unreasonable” search and seizure as well as the illegal warrantless arrest of two Muslim jewelry traders in Manila.
“Magpapatawag pa lang kami ng imbestigasyon laban sa mga pulis Maynila na tila lumabis sa kanilang kapangyarihan kamakailan lamang, makakarinig na naman tayo ng ganitong kwento. Ngayon naman, taga-GMA7 ang nagrereklamo. Hindi ba nakakapangamba na ang nangyayari?” Hataman said.
“Nananawagan ako sa PNP leadership na imbestigahan ito at ang iba pang kaso ng media harassment at parusahan kung natagpuang lumabis sa otoridad ang nagkasala. Hindi lamang re-assignment na pwede pa silang magpatuloy sa kanilang pang-aabuso. Hindi dapat ito ang maging ‘new normal’ sa pagpapatupad ng batas,” he added.
Hataman said there should be more compassion towards members of the media as they are also “frontliners” who deliver important information, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a viral Facebook post, reporter Mark Makalalad, who covers the PNP and Department of National Defense, narrated how he was questioned by four policemen after he delivered his live report along Marcos Highway on Thursday.
Makalalad said police officers asked for his identification card and requested him to ask permission first before recording a live video.
After Makalalad asked the police officers if it is the new directive, the latter admitted that it was not but still insisted that the reporter asks for permission because he is allegedly taking a video of them.
Makalalad denied this, with the police officers later saying: “Baka kasi sir kalaban ka [sir, you could be an enemy.]
Marikina City police chief Col. Restituto Arcangel has denied that his officers acted inappropriately when they asked Makalalad to seek permission first from authorities before doing a live report.
Nevertheless, Hataman said the PNP should come up with “clear-cut policies on protecting rights and re-indoctrinate its police force on the concept of the greater good.”
“Bakit bawal kayo mahagip ng media video? May ginagawa ba kayong masama? I would like to think wala naman. Ibalik natin ang tiwala ng taongbayan sa ating mga kapulisan. Magsisimula ‘yan sa magandang example ng ating mga law enforcers,” Hataman pointed out.
Further, the House leader said such cases of alleged harassment put more doubt on the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.
“These kinds of harassments put more doubts on the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the propensity of some of our law enforcement officers who will be enforcing this measure to go overboard, misuse and abuse the law either for personal benefit or for convenience and expedience,” Hataman said.
“I cannot stress this enough: it is okay to protect your ranks, but your main duty and obligation is to protect the people, not subject them to harassment. Media pa ‘yan, pano kung karaniwang tao lamang?” he added.
Additionally, Hataman said there should be stiffer penalties for erring enforcers of the law, noting the incident involving the chief of the Southern Police District who snatched the cellphone of reporter Jun Veneracion and deleted a recorded disturbance during the Traslacion in Quiapo, Manila, in January.
Hataman noted that the official involved was even promoted to a higher post.