Intel operations, background checks on media 'bordering on illegal' – PNP chief
MANILA, Philippines – "Bordering on illegal."
This is how Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa described alleged background investigations and intelligence operations on members of the press. (READ: PH media goes black to protest threats against press freedom)
"I categorically deny that there is an effort by the PNP to monitor, to conduct background checks on the media... It is not only irregular, but it is bordering on (being) illegal," the PNP chief told concerned reporters on Monday, January 22.
This comes after PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos told the PNP Press Corps reporters last week that the police will conduct background investigation on their members as a matter of protocol for annual accreditation.
Reached for comment, Carlos clarified that the background check of the PNP on media was not part of a case build-up similar to those that they conduct on crime suspects. (READ: Will you know if you’re on a drug list? Not that easy, Calida says)
“Para lang sa karakter (It's only for the character),” said Carlos in a phone interview with Rappler.
He said the checks only involve cops asking about the journalists’ personalities through “open sources.” These inquiries, he said, are not done by knocking on doors just like in Oplan Tokhang.
He added that the checks do not include press corps members "who have been there for years."
Dela Rosa tried to assure the newsmen, saying that the PNP is not conducting any operations against the press. (EDITORIAL: Eh ano ngayon kung ma-padlock ang Rappler?)
"Sa media wala kaming ginagawa. 'Wag na kayo mag-alala ha, ako na nagsasalita Chief PNP. Wala kaming efforts against sa inyo, kahit na anong gawin niyong paninira o panggigiba, that is your freedom," Dela Rosa said.
"Kahit na anong gawin niyo kahit galit kami deep breathing na lang namin yan di namin pwede kayo gawan ng aksyon. Kung meron man, magreport kayo sa amin," Dela Rosa added.
(We are not doing anything to the media. Don't worry, I am the one speaking as the chief of the PNP. We don't have efforts against you, even if you attack or demolish us, that is your freedom. Despite our anger, we can only do deep breaths. If ever there are [investigations], report them to us.)
According to the PNP chief, cops can only conduct these investigations on the media and knock on doors to ask for information if they have obtained a search or arrest warrant. – Rappler.com