CEBU CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas on Thursday renewed its commitment to uphold press freedom as it also recognized the role of Cebu media in providing the public with relevant information about peace and security.
Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson for the Police Regional Office-7, said the regional office has been considering entering into a partnership with the members of the press while fulfilling their mission to disseminate information concerning peace and order.
Pelare was among the guest speakers in the forum on the state of local news at the Marcelo Fernan Press Center on the occasion of the Press Freedom Week celebration that also coincides with the commemoration of the Martial Law declaration.
The event, organized by the Cebu Citizens Press Council headed by lawyer-journalist Pacheco Seares, was attended by editors, reporters, broadcasters, and students of journalism, mass communications, and development communications in different universities in Cebu.
According to him, the PNP issued a policy on media relations on Sept. 11 outlining parameters for media coverage, which is due for implementation.
Among the salient features of the policy is the accreditation of journalists covering police affairs, he added.
"If enforced, there will be data that will not be allowed to (be) revealed in public," he said. He also cited the rights of the suspects, witnesses, and victims of certain crimes that need to be respected, adding that even parading suspects during press conferences are no longer allowed.
Pelare, however, said it has been the policy of the PRO-7 chief to assist legitimate media practitioners in fulfilling their duty to the public to give fair and truthful reports on news that concerns the community.
“We have no problems with the Cebu media. We have a vibrant relationship with the police beats,” Pelare said, citing the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists headed by Arnold Bustamante, a reporter for Radio Mindanao Network’s DyHP.
Lawyer Elias Espinoza, chairperson of the Cebu Media Legal Aid, who was also one of the forum panelists, prodded the Cebu media that respecting the duties and responsibilities of the police officers would gain more favor than becoming isolated of having news sources within the PNP organization.
Lawyer Michael Francis Hubahib, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu Chapter, who also sat in the forum as a panelist, suggested a clear-cut policy on media coverage to avoid misunderstanding between the police officers and the journalists. (PNA)