Media groups cried foul over the “directive of the Philippine National Police (PNP) higher headquarters” to bar any access to the police blotter, spot reports from provincial headquarters, and journal.
As reaction, Defense PNP Press Corps (DEPP) President Arnold Bustamante issued a statement, assuring PNP officials that the media practitioners will “exercise due diligence in reporting with standard of professionalism”.
Bustamante’s statement was on behalf of “members of the Cebu media” and the members of the Bohol media who echo the same sentiment.
Bohol media personnel, who learned about the directive just yesterday, expressed concern on the possible curtailment of transparency in covering the police beat.
“Although we respect the directives of the PNP higher headquarters for not giving spot report of any significant incidents to the media, we DEPP members appeal to PNP officials to reconsider its decision,” Bustamante appealed in his statement.
He assured that the media will be fair in handling information gathered from the police blotter and journal.
“Authorities have nothing to worry in releasing any information through spot reports or press releases as we exercise due diligence in reporting with standard of professionalism. We are open for any communication to PNP officials to resolve the matter as soon as possible, purposely not to curtail what the public deserves to know,” Bustamante explained.
Members of the Bohol media covering the police and general beats expressed disappointment as they had been used to getting centralized record of spot reports from the municipal police stations through the PNP provincial command.
There is, however, an assurance that media practitioners can still get information from the municipal police stations through the local PNP officials.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Jose Mario Espino explained that the media can still get information from PNP officials, but not get it straight from spot reports.
The memorandum containing such directive from PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame was sent through text messages disseminated to all city and provincial directors.
Its implementation would mean the media will have to rely on the interpretation of the PNP officials on an incident instead of getting the raw information as stated plainly on the police spot report.
While it is perceived to be a reduction of transparency in covering the police beat, it is considered some sources from the PNP side as a way to spare the media from serious liability as they would just be quoting sources instead of coming up with their own interpretation of the police journal entries.
The Cebu media and its counterpart in Bohol initially thought of tackling the matter during the celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week on September 16-23.