WE CONDEMN the act of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas to deny the media access to police spot reports.
Spot reports or documents related to ongoing investigations are public documents that should be made available to journalists under the Freedom of Information (FOI) executive order of President Rodrigo Duterte. The FOI order recognizes that the State has an obligation to publish information.
PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos later denied there was such an order given to police precincts but he insisted that the release of spot reports is not automatic. He suggested that journalists secure a permit from the concerned police office or make FOI requests.
We believe that requiring an FOI request for every spot report in a way violates the principle of transparency by making it difficult for journalists or the public to obtain information that might have an effect on their safety.
We also find it unrealistic to require clearance or a permit to get every police investigation report, given the nature of a journalist’s work with deadlines to meet. We need access to spot reports without having to write a letter or making an FOI request. Police officers and investigators will not always be immediately available to act on such requests.
In addition, we call on the PNP hierarchy to clarify communication lines because we are getting contradictory statements from different officers.
We stand together with the various groups – the Defense PNP Press in Cebu, the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists, the Cebu-Citizens Press Council and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines – in opposing this police direction.
This is a “Cebu Declaration” made by participants of the seminar on “The Challenge of the New Media Landscape” organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) with support from WAN-Ifra and Acos Alliance, held in Cebu City on September 13, 2017.
Isolde D. Amante
Editha Z. Caduaya
Harold V. Pontongan
Mildred V. Galarpe
Ricky J. Bautista
Nestor Burgos Jr.
Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)