PNP to issue coverage ‘protocol’ within the week

Thea Alberto
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police will draw up a
“coverage protocol” for crisis situation that officials said is
intended to avoid any conflicts between authorities and the media.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who also chairs the National Police
Commission, said in a phone interview that he will submit the proposed
coverage protocol to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after he
receives the PNP’s recommendations.

He added that media groups and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
would be invited to comment on the protocol.

PNP Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said a technical working group
led by Chief Superintendent Silverio Alarcio of the Directorate for
Operations will draft the guidelines.

“Our purpose is to improve police operational procedures so that any
misunderstanding will be avoided in the future,” Razon said in an
interview.

Journalists who covered a failed uprising by a group led by Senator
Antonio Trillanes IV on November 29 were arrested, many of them
handcuffed, when government forces stormed the Manila Peninsula hotel,
where Trillanes and his followers had holed out.

The arrests drew wide condemnation here and abroad.

Police claimed the hauling off of the journalists was “standard
operating procedure” and said media did not heed the 3 p.m. deadline
imposed by National Capital region Police Office Director Geary
Barias.

Authorities claimed the media’s presence affected police and military
operations.

Razon himself said the journalists had to be arrested because several
of the renegade troops with Trillanes allegedly escaped by posing as
members of the press.

Puno said the coverage guidelines will include specifics on how police
should act during operations that might affect citizens and the media.

“We’ll go over the recommendations of the PNP and we will call media
groups and ask them to comment. [The] CHR will be requested to comment
too,” Puno said.

The protocol will also consider “to what extent will coverage be
appropriate or to what extent it will endanger the life of media and
those of the law enforcers around,” Puno added.

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