Police Surveys Reporters as part of PNP Policy
CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Members of the press experienced surveillance as a part of a Philippine National Police policy for media accreditation to the PNP Press Corps.
On January 24, The Manila Times reporter Roy Narra received a phone call from a man who was allegedly part of the PNP but refused to identify himself. He asked to meet Narra in person due to his pending accreditation as a PNP reporter. Narra ignored the request and reported the incident to the PNP Public Information Office.
“Aaksyunan daw nila and they told me na bawal daw yung ginawa nung tumawag sa akin,” Narra told the CMFR.
Also on February 6, members of the PNP Intelligence Group visited Radyo Inquirer office in Makati City to do a background check on one of its reporters.
Radyo Inquirer News Director Arlyn Dela Cruz in a Facebook post recounted how the two policemen asked several questions about their reporter, who is a member of the PNP press corps. Some of the questions were personal which she refused to answer.
Dela Cruz said it was the first time she encountered the kind of surveillance on a journalist assigned to the PNP beat. “Many of my friends here are former members and officers of the PNP Press Corps. A former Chief PNP who was also a PNP Spokesperson and head of the Public Information Office is also connected to me here. ‘Di nila ito ginawa,” she said on her post.
Dela Cruz’s post also said that the police admitted the background checks started under General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s leadership.
Earlier this year, PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa denied that the PNP was monitoring and doing background checks on the media stating that it is ‘bordering on illegal’ (“Intel operations, background checks on media ‘bordering on illegal’ – PNP chief“). But a recent report by GMA News Online said that the PNP has already admitted doing background checks as a form of verification for those reporters who are newly assigned to cover the PNP (“PNP admits background check on new journos covering Crame, vows to change process“).
Chief Superintendent and newly-installed PNP spokesperson John Bulalacao made the request after a man posing as a member of media managed to attend an event at Crame.
Bulalacao paid a surprise call on members of the media according to a Bulletin report, to assure them that the police will change the process of verification saying that they will settle in calling the offices of the news organizations to check the legitimacy of the reporters. He reminded the press to remain vigilant in dealing with such issues.
CMFR had heard and noted surveillance in several media orgs in 2017 but these decided not to report on their experience.
Bloggers also experienced surveillance by plainclothes men.
Also on February 2, friends of Pinoy Ako Blog’s Jover Laurio decided to take her to a safe house after a man disguised as a Smart telecom staff went to her home saying he was going to check signals. But the man began asking personal questions about who lived in the house. According to her blog, the man was seen taking photos of her house before he left.
Later, Laurio posted that Smart told her that they did not send anyone to check signals in her area.