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ALBAY, Philippines – Iriga City prosecutors have dismissed a complaint for violation of the Data Privacy Act filed by the police against a reporter from a local radio station in August.
In a nine-page resolution, the City Prosecution Office said it found “no probable cause” and “no reasonable certainty of conviction” to indict Rizal “Joeriz” Pajares, a reporter for Radyo Natin-Iriga.
Pajares found himself detained by the Iriga City police for simply scanning a police blotter in search of material for a news report on August 2.
The police accused him of unauthorized access and violation of data confidentiality and security protocols related to the police blotter, which contains personal and sensitive information about individuals.
Pajares was reviewing the police blotter and had not yet prepared a news report for his radio station when the police arrested him.
A complaint for violation of Section 29 of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 was subsequently filed against him.
He was released from detention a few days later after posting a P10-thousand bail bond.
Pajares’ arrest and detention sparked outrage in the local media and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) which questioned the basis for Pajares’ arrest and detention, and use of the Data Privacy Act against the reporter.
Following the City Prosecution Office’s dismissal of the complaint against Pajares, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Camarines Sur chapter, along with various media organizations and Radyo Natin, hailed the resolution and expressed their solidarity with Pajares.
“This will serve as an inspiration for us in the Fourth Estate to continue our duty as watchdogs of society. I call on my media colleagues to be even more vigilant in the pursuit of our noble profession,” said Maria Fe Mariscal, KBP-Camarines Sur chairperson.
The local KBP chapter also acknowledged lawyers Herman “Brix” Cledera and Aries Macaraig for providing pro bono legal assistance to Pajares in his defense.
The August 22 resolution signed by Associate City Prosecutor Leodegario Serrano Jr., however, cautioned the reporter to adhere to police procedures when accessing information, particularly concerning the handling of the police blotter.
Serrano also advised the Iriga City police station to orient the media and other stakeholders regarding police rules.
The resolution acknowledged that the police blotter is considered a public document but added that it should be treated as confidential, especially when it contains information about the commission of a crime.
It said that the right of the accused to be presumed innocent would be violated if such documents or information were easily accessible to non-involved parties as control over its dissemination would be lost once it is released. – Rappler.com