Rappler reporter removed from NCRPO messaging group

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — A Rappler reporter was removed from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) messaging group after the online news organization published the story on NCRPPO chief Major General Debold Sinas’ birthday celebration inside Camp Bagong Diwa on May 8 which violated quarantine protocols.

NCRPO’s public information officer Britz Estadilla removed Rappler’s Rambo Talabong from the agency’s official Viber group on May 13, a day after the Rappler story was published. The Rappler report included photos of the celebration attended by at least 50 people who did not follow protocols on s physical distancing. The photos were first uploaded in the NCRPO’s Facebook page by NCRPO personnel, but were later deleted after being criticized by netizens.  The police have been arresting people allegedly in violation of the same quarantine protocols their superiors were violating during the Sinas party.

The messaging group is the information channel of NCRPO where they send press releases, and communicates and coordinates with journalists. Talabong covers the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Sinas in a CNN Philippines interview on May 14 said that he did not order the removal of Talabong from the group.

Rappler, in an earlier statement, condemned Talabong’s removal,  saying it “constitutes prior restraint on the freedom of the press.” The organization also, “expects the NCRPO leadership and its PIO to approach and resolve this matter responsibly and professionally” as Talabong “truthfully report what happened.”