Police visiting journo privacy violation

Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Sunday did not mince his words against the Philippine National Police following its unannounced and uncoordinated home visits of police officers to some members of the press.

Estrada said while the purpose of the home visits is good, its execution is rather “contemptible.”

“It’s the most stupid idea, I must say. If they really wanted to know who among the journalists has been receiving death threats, the news organizations with which they are affiliated should be the first ones they have contacted,” Estrada said.

“In that way, the process of identifying who among them really needs help would be easier. Law enforcers should be knowledgeable on how to implement the laws accordingly instead of violating them,” he added.

The lawmaker stressed that the uncoordinated home visits of PNP personnel to some journalists on Saturday was a clear violation of the Data Privacy Act.

“The PNP clearly violated the Data Privacy Act and they should be held responsible for it,” Estrada said.

This comes after broadcast journalist JP Soriano of GMA News took to Twitter to share his experience after a plainclothes police officer went to his private residence.

Soriano said he was informed by the cop that the PNP is currently conducting home visits to journalists to assess threats on their lives, following the death of journalist Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

The broadcast journalist narrated that the police officer requested for his permission to take photographs of the unannounced home visit for documentation which he politely declined.

He added that he called Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro, who later confirmed that the visit was a directive from the PNP. He noted that a journalist, which he did not name, also called him to verify whether the incident was authorized by the authorities.

Teodoro said the PNP did not coordinate with the local government regarding the visits.

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros lauded the move made by the National Capital Region Police Office after it apologized for causing “undue alarm and fear.”

“It is good that the NCRPO apologized for these ‘surprise visits’ and put an end to this immediately,” Hontiveros said. “In this political climate, and in the wake of the killing of Perci Lapid, we cannot blame our journalists if this caused them uneasiness, which in turn can have a chilling effect on journalistic freedom.”

Hontiveros, a former journalist herself, vowed to protect the media as an important part of nation-building.

“As a former broadcast journalist myself, I stand squarely beside my former colleagues and the country’s fourth estate,” she said. “Now more than ever, we need free and strong media.”

Meantime, House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist also expressed serious alarm over a surprise home visit by a police officer in plainclothes to Soriano, saying that it is similar to what happened to the teachers who were visited by the police which led to an “intensified red-tagging” of teachers.

“The problem with these supposed ‘visits’ though are they are not mere visits because by doing so they are illegally accessing and/or disclosing and/or using personal information, including sensitive personal information like residence and political leanings, perceived or actual, of the people they are supposedly ‘visiting,’” Castro said.

With Edjen Oliquino

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