UN Rapporteur holds dialogue with Cebu media, police
BACOLOD CITY — An official of the United Nations on Monday, Jan. 29, visited Cebu to assess the government’s mechanisms regarding human rights, particularly freedom of opinion and expression.
UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan arrived at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), where a meeting took place with members of the Cebu Citizen’s Press Council, Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists, and the police.
Journalists were asked about experiences of human rights violations or harassment.
Lawyer Hue Jyro Go, chief of staff of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS), shared that Khan acknowledged the positive relationship between the police and the media in Cebu.
“She (Khan) was surprised and she was delighted that our Philippine National Police here adheres to international human rights standards. There are only a few exceptions when it comes to restraining speech or opinion—first when it’s against public morals or if it breaches the freedom of others and second when it comes to national security,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of PRO-7, said Khan recommended a seminar for police officers to improve or promote media relations and security.
“We are doing that already but we will improve it more so that the transparency of police operations, accessibility of information will be sustained here in PRO-7,” he said.
Arnold Bustamante, president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists, affirmed that press freedom remains alive in Cebu as journalists continue to express the truth without hindrance.
“Press freedom is still alive. We have not experienced our mouths being shut, our hands being tied in writing the truth about any wrongdoing by our police or our government officials. We are free to write about it,” he said.
Khan arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 22 and will leave on Feb. 2.