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NCRPO stops police visits to journalists’ private residences

After journalists expressed concern over visits by police officers at their private residences, ostensibly to ask if these journalist had been threatened, the National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) ordered a halt to these visits.

According to Manny Vargas’s Super Radyo dzBB report on Saturday, NCRPO chief Police Brigadier General Jonnel Estomo ordered the halt after several journalists raised concerns over the matter.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Dexter Versola, NCRPO spokesperson, said that visits were intended  to get information on possible threats against the media.

The NCRPO recognized that the purpose of a police officer suddenly showing up at a residence could be misconstrued.

Versola said they were now getting information from the Quezon City Police District and Eastern Police District, which were the units that had sent policemen on these visits, on the matter.

Journalist shares experience

In a tweet on Saturday, GMA reporter JP Soriano recounted his experience after a self-identified policeman came to his private residence check if he had received any threats following the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid.

Soriano said the policeman politely introduced himself, and explained that he was ordered by the PN) to check if journalists were being threatened.

“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?” said Soriano.

“Sila raw ay inutusan ng PNP na ‘i-check’ ang lagay ng mga journalist matapos daw ang nangyari kay Percy Lapid,” he added.

Soriano said he had not received any threats.

The police officer then asked if he could take a picture for documentation.

Soriano “politely declined.”

He said that the police officer immediately left and searched for the address of a fellow journalist who was his neighbor.

“Agad kong tinawagan si Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro at kinumpirma na galing daw umano ang instructions mula sa National PNP at isa pang journalist ang tumawag sa kanya at nagsabing pinuntahan din sila sa kanilang private residence,” said Soriano.

“Isa po itong malinaw na paglabag sa Privacy Act, at kung nais talagang makipag coordinate to check on us, dapat ito ay ginagawa sa aming opisina, HINDI sa aming tahanan,” he added.

In a separate statement on Saturday, Estomo said the police officers who visited Soriano's residence had been identified, adding that an investigation will be conducted.

“Though we have a good intentions in this endeavor, I personally apologize to all our media friends, and an investigation is already on place pertaining to this incident,” he said.

“The said police officer was already identified and summoned. An investigation will be carried out by the Chief of Police of Marikina City pertaining to this incident,” he added.

NCRPO chief Estomo said they had been reaching out to journalists, especially those who have been receiving threats to protect and ensure their safety.

“Unfortunately, a police officer reportedly visited a media personality in civilian clothes. The intention is good but unfortunately, this may have caused undue alarm and fear,” he said.

“However upon learning of what happened on the ground, I immediately ordered all commanders from District Directors down to the Chiefs of Police and Station Commanders to stop and refrain from doing the same,” he added.

Best done in newsrooms

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Saturday raised concerns over police visits at journalist residences.

“While the NCRPO’s statement that they would reach out to journalists in the wake of the murder of Percy Lapid is welcome and encouraging, the NUJP is concerned at reports of police officers visiting colleagues in their homes and without prior coordination,” the group said.

“Assuming good faith, these meetings and dialogues are best done through newsrooms or through the various press corps, press clubs and journalists’ organizations in the capital,” it added.

The PNP had created a special investigation task force to look into the fatal shooting of Lapid in Las Piñas City last October 4.

The broadcaster was shot dead by two men while on his way home in Barangay Talon Dos, Las Piñas City around 8:30 p.m.

Lapid was the host of the online broadcast program "Percy Lapid Fire" at dwBL 1242 and a columnist for Hataw.

A reward of P1.5 million has also been offered for information leading to the arrest of his killers. — DVM, GMA News