MANILA, Oct 17 (Mabuhay) — Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos on Sunday apologized after police visited the houses of several journalists to ask if they have been receiving threats similar to those received by slain commentator Percy Lapid.
While the move is “coming from good faith… it created panic,” Abalos said.
“If it created panic, pasensya na. Hindi na mauulit ito,” he said.
“Pasensya na po kung nagkaroon ng undue fear sa baba,” he said.
Abalos’ apology comes after the acting director of the Eastern Police District in the National Capital Region Police Office also apologized after members of the press complained of privacy violation as cops visited their homes.
Among those visited by the police were commentator David Oro, and reporters Adrian Ayalin and JP Soriano.
Ayalin was not at home in Marikina when a police car and several police officials dropped by looking for him and asking for his contact details.
“Okay naman yung pagbisita ng mga pulis kasi part naman talaga ng trabaho nila yun na protektahan hindi lang ang media pero kung hindi lahat ng mamamayan,” Ayalin said.
“Yung nakakabahala lang kasi biglaan… Yung mga pamilya natin sa bahay natin, nag-aalala sila kapag may pulis na dumating.”
Oro was visited twice. First by uniformed personnel, then followed by men in civilian clothing.
“Yung bagay na yun ay ina-appreciate ko pero para sa akin medyo nagulanatang ako, nagulat ako,” Oro said.
“After 2 days lamang ay may pumunta na naman sa akin na hindi naka-uniform na 2 pulis at ang dala-dala ay hindi rin marked vehicle,” he said.
“Ang hindi maganda doon, hindi man lang nag-iwan ng pangalan o contact number man lang para sana ay makatawag ako.”
Soriano took his frustrations on Twitter, saying his privacy seems to have been violated as work-related concerns should be coursed through his network.
“Tinanong kung puwede akong kuhanan ng picture for documentation and I politely declines,” he said in a tweet.
“Linawin ko lang po na hindi ang intensyong tulungan at proteksyunan kami ng PNP ang naging issue for me… pero bakit po sa bahay namin? Paano at saan nila nalaman ang aming home address at bakit ako kailangan kuhanan?” he said.
“Isa po itong malinaw na paglabag sa Privacy Act.”
Abalos said he only knew about what happened after someone forwarded copies of Soriano’s tweets.
In a statement, NCRPO chief BGen Jonnel Estomo said it was a “gesture” to check threats towards journalists following the ambush of broadcaster Percy ‘Lapid’ Mabasa earlier this month.
Estomo has been ordered to halt the program that was supposed to make media personnel feel more secure, Abalos said.
“Sabi ko sa kaniya, ‘Tigilan niyo na muna, General. You might mean well pero nagkakaroon tayo ng miscommunication sa baba,” he said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is in the process of organizing a meeting with media groups and companies, the Secretary said.
“Pagusapan natin ano ba ang gusto ninyo,” he said.
“Ang kanila (media) pong responsibilidad ay ibigay sa publiko yung katotohanan. Yung ganitong role medyo mabigat dahil talagang may masasagasaan,” he said.
“The PNP is here to protect you… We’re here to protect the public. Nandito kami to help the media,” he said.
In 2021, the Philippines was named as the world’s 7th most dangerous country for journalists.
Mabasa was the second journalist killed under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
There are 13 unsolved murders of journalists in the country between 2011 and 2021, according to the Global Impunity Index released by the Committee to Protect Journalists. (MNS)