POLICE arrested a reporter of state-run Radyo Pilipinas for not wearing a mask while traveling on board a motorcycle, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Monday, April 19, 2021.
Lorenz Tanjoco was handcuffed and detained for 10 hours at the Manila Police District on Friday, April 16.
Five officers were relieved from post pending the conduct of an investigation. Those relieved were Lieutenant Joel Piñon, Beata Community Precinct commander, and his men Senior Master Sergeant Jonathan Hernandez, Corporal Charles Bronzon dela Torre, and Patrolmen Marvin Anthony Comboya and Jonathan Abad.
The NUJP said Tanjoco told the police that he had temporarily taken off his face mask because it was being blown away by the strong wind.
When the police asked for his quarantine pass, Tanjoco presented his media ID instead. Police refused to honor this and brought Tanjoco to the police station.
When Tanjoco began filming his arrest, the police confiscated his cellphone and threatened to charge him for resisting arrest.
The NUJP condemned Tanjoco’s arrest, describing it as “unlawful and unreasonable.”
“Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas has a clear order that no person shall be arrested under the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces,” the NUJP said in a statement.
“NUJP calls on the police and the government to uphold the rights of all essential workers, most especially media workers. The police should understand the duty of journalists in our society as watchdogs and as credible sources of information most importantly in these trying times,” it added.
The group further reminded police officers that the pandemic is not a peace and order problem, but a health concern.
“Maximum tolerance and a compassionate kind of law enforcement should be observed at all times,” the group said.
Last week, former PNP spokesperson Police Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana said cops will no longer arrest quarantine violators as a way of showing compassion amid the pandemic.
Instead, violators will be fined or let off with a warning.
MPD Director Leo Francisco has ordered an investigation on the incident. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)