Aris R. Ilagan
Director General Avelino I. Razon Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), yesterday defended the stand of Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzales in imposing a set of guidelines for journalists covering critical situations involving peace and order.
“We are talking here about preservation of life and property. We believe that press freedom is not absolute when we tackle this issue,” Razon said in a press conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Gonzales issued last week an advisory to media entities to strictly observe the police operational procedure and that they will barred from entering an area under critical situation to allow government authorities to restore peace and order.
The statement of Gonzales drew varied reactions from several sectors, including those from the political opposition, international and local human rights organizations, and media groups, who said that the DoJ advisory is a direct assault on press freedom and the country’s democratic principles.
“We have the Police Operational Procedure. We have to implement it. We have also laws that we have to respect,” Razon said.
The PNP chief echoed Gonzales’ statements that any media personality who will violate the DoJ advisory can be charged with obstruction of justice.
“What can we read in the newspapers or watch in television if the newsmen covering the critical event are all dead?” he asked.
Razon said that the citizenry has grown tired of destabilization activities that have rocked the Arroyo administration because they are hurting the country’s economy.
Gonzales issued the advisory after claiming that the government has received intelligence reports that there are new plans from some sectors to conduct destabilization activities during the Jan. 22 EDSA Dos anniversary.
However, Razon emphasized that police authorities have yet to verify the report of the new destabilization attempt against the government as claimed by Gonzales.
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