Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

Crisis coverage rules, journalist protection sought

February 26th, 2011 · No Comments

Police, media to work on MOU
By Cherry Ann T. Lim
Sun.Star Cebu, February 26, 2011

POLICE officials and the media will work together to craft guidelines on media coverage during crisis situations and the protection of journalists from sexual harassment.

This comes after police officials led by Regional Investigation and Detective Management Branch Chief Patrocinio Comendador and Regional Police Community Relations (PCR) Division Chief and Public Information Officer Mariano Natuel discussed with media practitioners a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two parties that would restrict certain aspects of coverage when a crisis, such as a hostage-taking incident, is in progress.

The dialogue was held yesterday during the 22nd quarterly meeting of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) en banc at the MBF Cebu Press Center in Lahug.

Natuel said the police was open to comments on the document drafted by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Comendador acknowledged, for instance, that while the draft agreement talked about the responsibilities of journalists, it did not tackle the responsibilities of the police.

During the meeting attended by editors-in-chief, news editors, news directors, and members of the Cebu Media Legal Aid, among others, CCPC executive director Pachico Seares suggested the formation of a small group composed of representatives from the police and the media to polish the guidelines, which do not have to be signed by the parties.

Each party could follow the guidelines voluntarily as part of its self-regulation efforts.

Restrictions

Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas-Cebu officials Ruphil Bańoc and Leo Lastimosa said existing restrictions in the Broadcast Code could be considered in the discussions by the small group.

In 2009, the CCPC produced a brochure on safety tips for journalists covering natural disasters, public health emergencies and civil disorders, among others.

Natuel said he would show the brochure to the PNP and possibly incorporate some of its elements in the final guidelines.

Also discussed at the meeting was the need to protect journalists from sexual harassment.

Last week, a newspaper correspondent filed an administrative complaint against a local police chief for allegedly putting a hand on her breast and attempting to kiss her.

Law

Lawyer Jonathan Capanas, CCPC secretary, said Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 may not protect journalists from harassment by news sources, as the law deals only with harassment by those with authority or moral ascendancy over others, such as employers over employees, or teachers over students.

While there are regulatory bodies like the Civil Service Commission that could punish policemen for certain offenses, Capanas said there is nothing about sexual harassment in the code of conduct governing the civil service.

Natuel suggested that the matter of protecting journalists from sexual harassment be taken up as well by the small group to be formed by the CCPC.

Deputy Provincial Director for Operations Teofilo Siclot, Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) Director Noel Gillamac, Lapu-Lapu City Police Office Director Anthony Obenza, Supt. Arnel Banzon of the Cebu City Police Office PCR and the MCPO’s Carlos Gocotano also attended the dialogue.

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