After barring the Commission on Human Rights to access case folders of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa has prohibited all police offices and units from releasing spot reports to members of the media.
On Tuesday, the Police Regional Office started implementing the new directives from Camp Crame.
Supt. Virgilio Bayon-on, Cebu Provincial Police Office – Public Community Relations (CPPO-PCR) officer, said the directive from Camp Crame did not cite any reason for banning media access to spot reports.
“We just follow orders from the headquarters,” Bayon-on said.
Spot reports contain internal information like the names of the operating team members, investigators and the leads of the operation that was conducted, among others.
Blotters, however, can still be accessed by reporters.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III denounced the order saying, “That’s a public document. It should be accessible to anyone, and it’s supposed to be open for the media because they’re the ones who are to report these crimes to the public.”
He said transparency and accountability in police operations are at stake if law enforcers refuse to disclose crucial information found in spot reports, like names of police officers involved in a particular operation, the suspects and victims, etc.
“The impact of this? The public would not know what went on, particular crimes committed, the circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime. And the public deserves to know this,” Davide explained.
Elias Baquero, president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ), said that it is the duty of reporters, as members of the fourth estate — the media — to get reports like the spot reports from offices like the PNP.
“If the PNP officer/s will not give a copy of the spot reports, despite he is the in charge, then he cannot prevent the public to speculate that he/they have something to hide within their police station,” Baquero said.
Arnold Bustamante, the president of the Police Beat Reporters in Cebu, said while they respect the decision of Camp Crame, he hopes that the decision is not yet final.
“We DEPP (Defense PNP Corps) members appeal to PNP officials to reconsider its decision. Authorities have nothing to worry about in releasing any information through spot reports or press releases as we exercise due diligence in reporting with standard of professionalism,” Bustamante said.
He said the media is open to communicating with PNP officials to resolve the matter soonest so as not to curtail what the public deserves to know.
In lieu of spot reports, PRO-7 director Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino promised to give reporters press releases of their operations.
He said that the media could continue their rapport with PNP by asking the police officers information on facts of incidents.
“But the PNP official reports like spot reports, case folders, etc., should be treated with utmost care because it might affect or jeopardize the investigation,” Espino said.