Filipino journalists

Iriga reporter’s arrest sparks controversy over data privacy

Rhaydz Barcia

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Iriga reporter’s arrest sparks controversy over data privacy
The reporter, Jose Rizal Pajares of Radyo Natin, is detained by the Iriga City police for days for merely scanning a police blotter in search for something to report about

ALBAY, Philippines – A retired prosecutor and another lawyer volunteered to defend a radio reporter who was detained and charged by the police with violation of Data Privacy Act in Iriga City.

The reporter, Jose Rizal Pajares of Radyo Natin, was detained by the Iriga City police for three days for merely scanning a police blotter in search for something to report about on August 2.

His arrest and detention sparked an uproar in the local media, which questioned the police actions.

Police have accused Pajares of unauthorized access and violation of data confidentiality and security protocols pertaining to police blotter, which stores personal and sensitive information about people.

Pajares was going over the police blotter and had yet to make a news report for his radio station when the police arrested him. He was released from detention days later after he posted a P10-thousand bail bond.

“A complaint for violation of Section 29 of Data Privacy Act of 2012 was filed against him,” said Colonel Maria Luisa Calubaquib, police regional spokesperson.

Maria Fe Regori Mariscal, the president of the Camarines Sur chapter of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), said they were discussing the case with Pajares and lawyers.

Mariscal said retired prosecutor Herman Cledera, now a law professor at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City, and lawyer Aries Macaraig have volunteered to defend Pajares and test the police’s case against him.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) questioned the basis for Pajares’ arrest and detention.

“Under the Data Privacy Act, the law is not applicable to personal information processed for the purpose of journalism,” read part of the NUJP statement on Thursday, August 10.

NUJP said the police arrested Pajares without showing any warrant of arrest.

In a statement, the police said Pajares had requested access to the information on the police blotter and was advised by authorities to follow basic protocols.

“This protocol involved seeking permission from the chief of police of Iriga City police station, with the assistance of the duty desk officer. However, despite this guidance, the media personality took the police blotter from the desk officer, accessing the information without permission and without adhering to the proper procedures. This action occurred while the duty police officer was in the process of contacting the chief of police to arrange a meeting with the media,” read part of the police statement.

The police also cited PNP Memorandum Circular No. 2020-037, issued to safeguard personal data in blotters and keep these confidential.

The police maintained that correct procedures were followed during the reporter’s arrest. – Rappler.com

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