DAVAO CITY – Journalists welcomed the apology from Davao City police director Vicente Danao for his tirade on three reporters, but they said the city police must do away with its rough treatment on members of the press.
The Davao City chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said the apology was made by Danao after public pressure criticizing him for berating three reporters who asked from his office on updates on the killing of hotel owner, Richard King.
“The apology was prompt, coming from widespread criticism from fellow media and the public,” NUJP Davao City chairperson Jesse Casalda said.
“But we should not just stop there. We journalists and the public should demand that more steps should be done to make media free from intimidation, coercion and unfair treatment,” he added.
Casalda mentioned incidents in the past when journalists were “victims” of police’s rough action.
He mentioned in 2013 that a throng of police officers used their shields to push out Philippine Daily Inquirer photojournalist Karlos Manlupig away from covering a dispersal of Typhoon Pablo survivors barricading a government office.
Then there was the recent incident last February when Pinoy Weekly/ Kilab Multimedia photographer was hit in the head in the midst of a police dispersal of farmer rallyists.
“We, journalists, have seen the quality of the city’s law enforcement agency and the whole Davao City police personnel who treats the media in the same manner they treat arrested suspects and criminals. You can call this irresponsible treatment, insensitivity, arrogance or disrespect,” he said.
He reminded Danao not to dismiss journalists covering the police beat, especially at this time the city is hit with three high profile murders in three weeks that include lawyer Emmanuel Acuña, and businessmen Ramon Garcia and Richard King.
“We need to remind officers that journalists, like them, are bound by duty to serve the public. Issues such as criminality have increased lately, and the general public especially victims are concerned about the latest updates on cases. So we ask, probe, go around police precincts and other places to come out with facts. At times, we may even beat the police in finding leads on the cases. At times we reveal information in the pursuit of constitutionally guaranteed right to information,” he said.
The NUJP also added that officials from government should disabuse themselves from treating reporters as part of their public relations tool.
The group also commended the reporters, SunStar Davao’s Ivy Tejano, Mindanao Times’ Maria Cecilia Badian and Edge Davao’s Armand Fenequito for “being courageous in the face of brazen intimidation.” (davaotoday.com)