MPD relieves five officers who arrested radio reporter at quarantine checkpoint
Bumper-to-bumper traffic along Marcos Highway at the boundary of Marikina and Antipolo cities in Rizal as police flag down motorists on the first day of the reimplementation of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Monday, March 29, 2021.
The STAR/Boy Santos

MPD relieves five officers who arrested radio reporter at quarantine checkpoint

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - April 19, 2021 - 2:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Police District has relieved the five checkpoint officers behind the arrest of radio reporter Lorenz Tanjoco of state-run Radyo Pilipinas of the Philippine Broadcasting Service. 

This was confirmed by Police Lt. Col. Roberto Mupas, MPD public information chief, in a phone call with Philstar.com Monday afternoon. He did not provide the officers' names. 

"He (Tanjoco) was released from the jail. It's okay now. Our district director ordered an investigation on the incident," he said in mixed Filipino and English, adding that the five were assigned to a holding unit. 

"It wasn't a quarantine violation, it was resisting arrest. It was probably just a misunderstanding, and that's why they had that confrontation."

'Isolated incident' 

According the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, citing information from the Manila City Hall Press Corps, Tanjoco was riding his motorcycle when he was accosted for not wearing his mask properly. 

The reporter explained that his mask was being blown away by the wind, prompting him to remove it for a short while. 

Cops asked for a quarantine pass, and the journalist presented his media identification card.

They did not accept his explanation and attempted to arrest him, prompting him to document the incident on video. 

"Officers confiscated his phone and said that he will face a resisting arrest complaint. He was also cuffed and detained for almost 10 hours," NUJP said. Mupas confirmed this, saying: "He was detained for around 12 hours." 

"Anyone can have that right to make use of the video as regards to the instances, nobody is going to stop them...if they feel there were violations it would be better if this is covered by the video from the parties concerned," Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, former PNP spokesperson, told Philstar.com earlier.  

'Just doing his job' 

Asked if he could categorically say whether or not recording an arrest counted as resisting, Mupas said: "There's nothing wrong with that. It's his job to report isn't it?" 

"I can't say if they confiscated his phone. Personal belongings usually aren't confiscated," the MPD spokesman added. "But actually that was an isolated incident. Rest assured the MPD maintains a good relationship with its press club."

RELATED: PNP: Fines, community service for quarantine violators during MECQ

This comes after weeks of Enhanced Community Quarantine, which saw incidents of overzealous enforcement of quarantine restrictions.

National police leadership has since said it would stop arresting quarantine violators and only issue warnings and fines. 

"In our implementation of ECQ, the Chief PNP did not require the filing of charges because it might also be counterproductive to our people...What happens in the precinct is either documenting or processing," Usana at a briefing on Monday, April 12. 

"It's impractical for police to man checkpoints but still have to bring people to precincts. That is also tantamount to taking them into custody...The Chief PNP discouraged arresting or bringing them to the police station, only warnings and fines." 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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