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ALBAY, Philippines – Media organizations in Bicol strongly condemned Iriga City police over what they said was the unjustifiable arrest and detention of a Radyo Natin reporter for violation of the data privacy law.
The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Camarines Sur chapter on Friday, August 11, called out the unwarranted actions taken by the police against media practitioner Jose Rizal “Joeriz” Pajares for an act as innocuous as browsing through a police blotter.
Pajares was arrested on Wednesday, August 2, and jailed for three days by Iriga City police for going over a police blotter. The media groups vented their ire on Iriga City chief of police Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Jason Oida.
“It is deeply concerning that the police are alleging a violation of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and have in fact charged him before the prosecutor’s office, without any evidence of the commission of a crime,” the KBP Camarines chapter said in a statement.
“The freedom of the press and the right to information are fundamental pillars of a democratic society. As media practitioners, it is vital that we are able to access information relevant to our work in an ethical and lawful manner,” it said.
“Criminalizing the act, a journalist browsing through a public record undermines these principles and sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom. This, especially considering that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 itself expressly declares its inapplicability to such acts of innocent browsing for journalist purposes. We urge all authorities to thoroughly review this case in order to ensure that the rights and freedom of media practitioners are upheld,” the statement added.
The Bicol Press Club (BPC) and the Camarines Sur Press Club (CSPC) also jointly issued a statement condemning the aggressive behavior displayed by personnel of Iriga City PNP.
“The arrest of Pajares raised serious concerns about the abuse of authority and the infringement upon the rights of the media to carry out their duties without fear of intimidation or harassment,” the statement said.
“We firmly believe the crucial role that media professionals play in upholding the principles of transparency, accountability, and the safeguarding of civil liberties. It is disheartening to witness an incident where a dedicated media personality such as Mr. Pajarez was subjected to undue aggression up to his arrest and detention, and eventually filing a case for alleged violation of Data Privacy Act while performing his duty to inform the public,” the statement said.
According to the organizations, the incident paints a troubling picture of an officer overstepping the boundaries of their authority. “Such behavior not only undermines the integrity of law enforcement but also jeopardizes the public’s trust in the guardians of our safety and security,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the PNP provincial command in Camarines Sur led by Police Colonel Julius Ceasar M. Domingo ordered the relief of the Iriga City chief.
In an order released by Domingo on Friday, August 11, he said that pursuant to general orders number 63., Major Jabesh Nicolas Napolis will be designated as officer-in-charge of Iriga City police station effective August 10. – Rappler.com