ON THE sidelights of the fire that hit T. Padilla in Cebu City last Monday was what police beat reporters called a "hitting" incident involving one of their own and the chief of the homicide section of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

I thought little of the Facebook status of Banat and dyLA correspondent Leslie Caminade when it appeared on my wall Tuesday dawn, wherein she railed at a police officer's slapping ("gisagpa" was how she described it) of a reporter who was covering the fire. Last I checked, this particular post has been deleted.

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Only when Sun.Star Cebu police reporter Jovy Gerodias appeared in a TV news program yesterday did I know that it was Leslie involved. Jovy, president of the Defense-PNP Press Corps (Depp), was airing the position of the group on the incident.

I don't know Leslie beyond her being a girlfriend of Sun.Star Cebu reporter Justin Vestil, an Ungo runner and a correspondent of Banat and dyLA. She posts funny comments on Facebook, which I take to indicate a person who prefers to see the comic side of life to the tragic.

To a reporter, covering a big fire requires a high level of alertness and grit. Leslie had both that day. Seeing a harried-looking homicide chief Sr. Insp. Vicente Velasquez in the fire area, she thought he was responding to a police alarm nearby and sidled up to him. She told him that she was going with him and playfully clung to his arm.

This act of Leslie was not unnatural to either Velasquez or Leslie. They have good rapport as news source and news messenger. Leslie has been covering the police beat long enough to have established trust in her police sources.

What was unnatural was Velasquez's reaction. If we go by his account, he waved Leslie aside somewhat forcefully and left her, unknown to him, feeling humiliated. He did not slap her or hit her, he said. But the force from his hand action threw Leslie off-balance psychologically and emotionally. She did not expect that from him. She was embarrassed and felt insulted. She told her fellow Depp members what happened.

Depp brought the matter to the attention of CCPO Chief Patrocinio Comendador, who immediately called Velasquez to his office to explain. Velasquez arrived dirtied and in slippers. He said he had rushed to the fire scene to help move out his bedridden mother whose house was one of those hit.

He profusely apologized for what he said was "natapi" (waved aside), saying it was a knee-jerk reaction. He only had saving his mother in mind and Leslie's clinging to his arm hampered him from rushing to his mother's house. Leslie, having no intent to pursue a case against Velasquez, accepted the apology.

Beat reporters in Cebu have learned not to take sides until they have heard all parties involved. Instead of condemning Velasquez's act or coming to Leslie's defense, Depp exercised sobriety and ferreted out the facts.

Depp found Velasquez's involuntary use of force inexcusable yet understandable given the pressure he was facing then, and Leslie's act to be a lesson for every reporter to "take precaution in dealing with news sources and assess the situation beforehand."

Leslie, unaware of the state Velasquez was in, behaved toward the police officer like she usually did. When she didn't get the usual response from him, she got confused and felt mortified. Told of Velasquez's side and his apology, she softened up. A sorry was all she wanted to hear from her news source anyway.

Jovy and the rest of the Depp officers -- Arnold Bustamante, Gabriel Bonjoc, Jucelle Cuyos, Guam Logronio and Rey Pasaporte -- good job.