Why Are Police Visiting Journalists in Their Homes?
A surprise visit by a policeman in civilian clothes to the home a television reporter caused alarm among media workers and concerned citizens as they questioned the conduct of a supposed safety check on journalists that came in the wake of the killing of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid.
GMA News reporter JP Soriano on Saturday, October 15, shared his experience in a series of viral tweets after a person in plainclothes introducing himself as a police officer knocked at his residence in Marikina City to see if there was any "threat" to him or his family.
1.) Isang nagpakilalang Pulis ang nagpunta sa aking private residence ngayon, nagpakita ng I.D. pero hindi naka uniform, Hinanap ako at maayos namang nagpakilala at sinabing inutusan daw sila ng #PNP para “kamustahin” ang mga journalists at kung may “threat” ba sa amin? @gmanews— JP Soriano (@jpsoriano) October 15, 2022
Radio broadcaster David Oro, a police beat veteran, and Adrian Ayalin of ABS-CBN Television, also experienced police checking up on them in their homes, ABS-CBN News reported.
Soriano said the police officer told him that the instruction came from the Philippine National Police in response to the killing of Lapid, who was gunned down on his way home in Las Piñas City a week prior.
The policeman even asked to take a photo of Soriano for "documentation" purposes but the journalist declined.
Soriano then confirmed with Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro that the instruction came from the PNP. Another journalist also called Teodoro to report a similar incident, he added.
"Isa po itong malinaw na paglabag sa Privacy Act, at kung nais talagang makipag-coordinate ng Philippine National Police to check on us, dapat ito ay ginagawa sa aming opisina, hindi sa aming tahanan," Soriano said.
"Hindi ang intensyong tulungan at proteksyunan kami ng PNP ang naging issue for me. That is something na ma-appreciate ko personally. Pero bakit po sa bahay namin? Paano at saan nila nalaman ang aming home address? At bakit kailangan ako kuhanan? What for?" he added.
Police called it a 'gesture' to protect media workers
Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, head of the National Capital Region Police Office, confirmed the conduct of a safety check on media personnel, saying that it was their "gesture" to see if there was a need to provide security assistance to journalists.
"In our commitment to protect them from danger and ensure their safety, we have been reaching out to our friends from the media, especially those who have been receiving threats," Estomo said.
"Unfortunately, a police officer reportedly to have visited a media personality in civilian clothes. The intention is good but unfortunately, this have caused undue alarm and fear," he added.
Estomo apologized to media workers for the incident as he ordered all police commanders to refrain from conducting surprise safety checks on journalists. The police officer who visited Soriano was also summoned and ordered investigated, he added.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has also apologized for the incident, saying that while it was "coming from good faith... it created panic," he told ABS-CBN News. He added that the incident will not happen again.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that while checking on the safety of journalists after Lapid's killing is welcome and encouraging, "these meetings and dialogues are best done through newsrooms or through the various press corps, press clubs and journalists' organizations in the capital."