Cebu City police prevent journalists from interviewing detained suspects

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A memo issued by the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) prohibits journalists from interviewing detainees under their custody without prior permission.

Mayor Tommy Osmeña shared the memo on his Facebook page on Thursday, May 2.

 "Effective immediately media personalities who wish to interview with Person/s Under Police Custody (PUPC) shall first secure clearance from the office of the Acting City Director. Without such, no interview shall be permitted," the memo read.

In his Facebook post, Osmeña said: “What are you trying to hide CCPO?”

For several months now the reelectionist mayor has been butting heads with CCPO chief Police Colonel Royina Garma.

A few days before Easter Sunday, April 21, Osmeña complained about the setting up of a police checkpoint outside his home in Barangay Guadalupe here.


Osmeña has also alleged that police have been raiding without warrants the homes of barangay captains allied with Bundok Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

“First, a death threat and then a gag order. No search warrant, a ‘buy bust’ caught on CCTV where they break into a someone’s house, hit a baby, brutalize the pregnant mother, and steal her money,” Osmeña said in his Facebook post.

Osmeña was referring to the CCTV footage of 6 armed men, believed to be police officers, seen beating up alleged drug suspect Eddie Basillote in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City.

The CCTV video was dated stamped on April 18, uploaded online and went viral.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 Chief Investigator Leo Villarino told Rappler that Basillote’s family has approached their office even before the video went viral and they were already conducting an investigation.

Villarino said that the team probing the incident was denied access to the blotter by the Talamban Police Station – the station of the suspected policemen.

“If police can show the blotter to the media, why can’t they show this document to a constitutional office... It’s appalling, it’s disgusting, it’s insulting.” said Villarino.

Garma said she has ordered Major Elizandro Quijano, the Talamban police Chief, to file a report on the incident.

Osmeña, who in the past worked closely with the police chiefs of the city and the region, told Rappler in October 2018 that the rise in killings in Cebu happened with the arrival of Garma and Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office Central Visayas. Sinas took over June 4, 2018, while Garma was appointed July 1.

Garma was previously a station commander in Davao City.

According to a report in The Freeman, allies of Osmeña filed a case against police for allegedly forcing them to alight from their vehicles during a recent checkpoint stop. – with a report from Micole Gerard Tizon/ 

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.