Broadcaster hits cop’s surprise home visit

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A broadcast journalist cried foul after he was visited at home by a man claiming to be a police officer, supposedly to check if he has been receiving threats.

JP Soriano of GMA News said a man in civilian clothes, who introduced himself as a police officer, visited him at his home.

The man showed an identification card to prove that he is a police officer.

Soriano said the policeman told him they were instructed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to check the condition of journalists following the murder of hard-hitting commentator and columnist Percy Lapid in Las Piñas.

“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,” Soriano said in a Twitter post.

Soriano said the police officer also asked if he could take his picture for documentation, a request the journalist declined.

Before leaving, the policeman told Soriano he was looking for another journalist who is his neighbor.

Soriano expressed concern as the unannounced visit violated provisions Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act.

Soriano said he called Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, who confirmed that the order to visit journalists was upon the instructions of the PNP.

“Kung talagang makipag-coordinate ng @pnppio to check on us, dapat ito ay ginagawa sa aming opisina, hindi sa aming tahanan (If the @pnppio wanted to coordinate to check on us, it should be with at the office, not at home),” Soriano said, who wondered how the police obtained his home address.

NUJP airs concern

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), meanwhile, expressed concern over reports of police officers visiting colleagues in their homes without prior coordination.

“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,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Far from making journalists safe, the NUJP said the visits add to their anxiety as these were done without coordination with newsrooms.

NCRPO stops visits

National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo has ordered all police commanders in the region to stop visiting members of media at home following Soriano’s protest.

While the intention of the police officer was good, Estomo said it has caused undue alarm and fear.

“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 said in a statement.

Estomo also apologized to journalists. He added the police officer who visited Soriano was identified and summoned by his superiors.

“An investigation will be carried out by the chief of police of Marikina City pertaining to this incident,” he said.

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