PNP Press Corps: General Bathan violated police code

Rambo Talabong

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PNP Press Corps: General Bathan violated police code
Under Philippine National Police rules, 'conduct unbecoming of a police officer' can merit dismissal, suspension from the service, or demotion

MANILA, Philippines – Slamming General Nolasco Bathan‘s “thug-like attitude,” the Philippine National Police (PNP) Press Corps said the Southern Metro Manila top cop violated the police’s own code when he snatched the phone of GMA reporter Jun Veneracion during coverage of a religious procession.

In a statement on Friday, January 10, the PNP Press Corps said: “We understand the stress and pressure brought by the long preparation and the situation on the ground during the incident, but General Bathan’s thug-like attitude in front of his men is plain and simple conduct unbecoming of a PNP member, of a police general.”

The PNP Press Corps is an organization of 30 journalists covering the national police’s top command in its headquarters, Camp Crame.

To recall, Bathan snatched Veneracion’s phone as he was recording how cops shoved a devotee of the Black Nazarene to the ground on Thursday, January 9. Bathan was then heard cursing Veneracion and ordering a cop to delete the video, which was recovered later in the “recently deleted” folder of Veneracion’s phone.

What offense? Under the PNP Disciplinary Rules of Procedure, “conduct unbecoming of a police officer” means:

An act or behavior of a police officer, irrespective of rank, done in his official or private capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing himself as a police officer, seriously compromises his character and standing in the PNP in such a manner as to indicate vitiated or corrupt state of moral character which shows his unworthiness to remain in the police service.

The PNP Press Corps added that Bathan’s actions constituted “an attack on press freedom” and an assault to the human rights of Veneracion.

What now? Bathan has since apologized to the GMA reporter, floating the alibi that he thought Veneracion was a “threat.” He could not explain, however, why he chose to take his phone, and when he was asked to comment on why his voice was heard in the recording cursing and ordering a cop to delete the video, he repeatedly said, “I don’t know.”

The PNP, under the instruction of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, has commenced a probe, but stopped short of suspending Bathan, which would have ensured an impartial investigation. 

Under the PNP’s rules, a “serious offense” to the “conduct unbecoming of a police officer” rule can merit dismissal. Lower punishments include suspension from the service and demotion. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.